Chinese cyberattack hits encrypted messaging app used by Hong Kong protestors

BEIJING — An encrypted messaging app said Thursday that it was hit by a powerful cyberattack from China as a major protest unfolded in Hong Kong. The attack on the Telegram app, which slowed connectivity but did not compromise user data, came as thousands surrounded Hong Kong government headquarters on Wednesday to protest legislation that…
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Spy used AI-generated face to connect with targets, experts find

LONDON — Katie Jones sure seemed plugged into Washington’s political scene. The 30-something redhead boasted a job at a top think tank and a who’s-who network of pundits and experts, from the centrist Brookings Institution to the right-wing Heritage Foundation. She was connected to a deputy assistant secretary of state, a senior aide to a…
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How the CIA Used the Illusions of Magicians to Fool the KGB

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty

This excerpt from The Moscow Rules, which I wrote with my husband, Tony Mendez, deals with a daunting technical operation in Moscow undertaken by the CIA with support from our office, Office of Technical Service or OTS, a group often likened to the “Q” of Ian Fleming’s novels. The target was an underground communication line, newly installed, that connected the Krasnaya Pakhra Nuclear Weapons Research Institute to the Soviet Defense Ministry in the city. This newly installed communication link was accessed by a series of manholes that ran beside a heavily trafficked artery around Moscow. The problem was how to get one of our officers into one of their manholes, despite the overwhelming surveillance that we all were subjected to. The solution, from our Disguise Branch, led to a new technique that we called Disguise-on-the-Run or DOTR, and it became a tool that we used on more than one occasion. As was often the case in our line of work, our best solutions would arise out of desperation. We not only needed a technique that could ensure that our first man in would be safe, we needed a technique that could be replicated repeatedly, as our OTS technical officers serviced the wiretap once it was installed.

Here is how it began as told from Tony’s perspective:

The OTS office at 2430 E Street is still an infamous address in the intelligence community. The cluster of buildings perched on the hill behind the Bureau of Naval Medicine and across 23rd Street from the State Department, where Wild Bill Donovan began America’s fledgling intelligence capability, the Office of Strategic Services, it is also where Bob Gates lived in a row of generals’ quarters while he was President Obama’s secre­tary of defense, just three blocks  from the White House.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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Black Mirror Used to Be a Terrifying Vision of the Future. Season 5 Is Just Silly

Black Mirror was built on chilling “what if” scenarios. In the first two seasons of the sci-fi anthology, which aired on Channel 4 in the UK, creator Charlie Brooker applied the question to a series of tech-dystopia nightmares: What if tiny devices implanted in everyone’s head recorded all of our experiences, and we could replay them on demand? What if A.I. allowed us to live with virtual facsimiles of our dead partners? What if the future of human labor entailed running endlessly on a treadmill, and the only possible escape was a hard-earned chance to compete on a sexed-up version of American Idol?

A lot has changed since Black Mirror‘s 2011 series premiere shamed viewers for our addictions to various screens. The iPhone was only four years old at the time. Instagram had just celebrated its first birthday. It would’ve been quite surprising at the time to hear that Black Mirror would soon expand its budget, audience and output by moving to Netflix—which isn’t exactly blameless in the screen-addiction pandemic—after season 2. Brooker used the lengthened seasons to vary his preachy tone a bit, making room for less relentlessly bleak speculative fictions like the lesbian afterlife fantasy “San Junipero” and the virtual-reality Star Trek pastiche “U.S.S. Callister.” Last year, the show debuted a choose-your-own-adventure film, Bandersnatch; in another great Black Mirror irony, Netflix recorded every decision viewers made.

But by far the biggest difference between the show’s early years and now is viewers’ increased awareness of the perils of technology. The NSA spying scandal didn’t make news until 2013. Gamergate went mainstream a year later. And even Brooker never dreamed up with a “what if” to rival the catastrophic confluence of Facebook, Russia and Cambridge Analytica during the 2016 election. Details that have come to light since Black Mirror‘s fourth season appeared, 17 months ago, have made the social media giant’s unchecked power a topic of daily conversation. Now, we’re reckoning with a very real tech dystopia of our own. That puts the show in a strange position for its fifth season, which comes to Netflix on June 5.

It’s possible that Brooker—who has scripted almost every episode of the show, occasionally with a co-writer—is running out of “what if” potent enough to strike fear into the heart of the typical Twitter junkie. While previous Netflix seasons have spanned six episodes, the new one runs only three. And instead of keeping viewers up at night with political hellscapes and other horror-movie scenarios, season 5 rarely departs in a meaningful way from what’s possible now.

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Pedro Saad/NetflixAvatars get physical in “Striking Vipers.”

In an episode titled “Smithereens” that barely qualifies as science fiction, an unhinged rideshare driver (played by Fleabag‘s Hot Priest Andrew Scott) kidnaps an intern (Damson Idris of Snowfall) at a social-media monolith in hopes of forcing the company’s founder (Topher Grace) into a one-on-one phone conversation. Despite strong performances from all three actors, the banality of the premise, the sketchiness of the characterizations, and the predictability of the resolution detract from the impact of what should be a heart-pounding thriller. Brooker’s depiction of Grace’s man-bunned, meditating tech genius as a victim of his own greedy underlings made me laugh out loud. Combined with the fact that the worst blunders in the episode are perpetrated by less powerful women, “Smithereens” mostly resonates as a failure to read the room.

Thanks in part to such baffling choices, Black Mirror doesn’t feel more realistic just because the times have caught up with it. Instead of manipulating our anxiety about technology—something Brooker often accomplished simply by activating viewers’ visceral disgust—the new episodes revel in the ridiculousness of our predicament, achieving a level of detachment that makes the show campy in the same way so many out-of-touch spectacles are campy. At least there’s some fun in that. (“When the theme is important, and contemporary, the failure of a work of art may make us indignant,” Susan Sontag wrote in “Notes on Camp,” summing up my most common reaction to early Black Mirror episodes. “Time can change that. Time liberates the work of art from moral relevance, delivering it over to the Camp sensibility.”)

That effect seems unintentional in “Smithereens,” which includes over-the-top emotional outbursts like Scott howling over how young tech employees are, and the marginally superior “Striking Vipers.” Named for a video game in the Street Fighter mold, the episode stars Anthony Mackie as a married suburban dad who can’t shake his wistfulness for the life of clubbing and gaming he shared with his college roommate (Yahya Abdul-Mateen II). When the two pals are reunited as one male and one female martial arts pro in an extremely realistic VR version of Striking Vipers, their relationship takes an unexpected turn. I think the episode is supposed to raise questions about nostalgia as well as sexuality in virtual space. But the characters are so thinly written that it devolves into an extreme version of AOL-era hysteria about teens having cybersex with smelly middle-aged creeps.

Black Mirror Season 5: Striking Vipers
Anthony Mackie and Yahya Abdul-Mateen II play video games in Black Mirror season 5.

Most emblematic of the season as a whole is “Rachel, Jack and Ashley Too,” which takes Brooker farther than usual from his sweet spot of surveillance, video games and dark, tech-damaged romance. In a bit of inspired stunt casting, Miley Cyrus plays Ashley O, a pop star whose girl-power rhetoric conceals depression exacerbated by her handlers’ chokehold on her music and persona; the resemblance to Britney Spears doesn’t seem coincidental. When she releases a half-doll, half-Alexa “intelligent companion” called Ashley Too, a young fan named Rachel (Angourie Rice) who’s still grieving her mother finds a new best friend in the robot. Inevitably, the storylines converge in a soapy caper that dives into the uncanny valley of holographic pop idols, probes the loneliness of star/fan relationships and rails against the deceptions of celebrity culture. Some of the episode’s campy elements are clearly intentional: Brooker’s funniest choice of the season is to set Ashley’s vapid hits to recognizable Nine Inch Nails melodies, so that the industrial onslaught of “Head Like a Hole” gets flattened into an upbeat trifle about “achieving my goals.” By contrast, the fact that we’re told Rachel is 15 but she fawns over Ashley with all the prepubescent naïveté of a Taylor-Swift-crazy tween just comes off as clueless writing.

Such dissonance underscores the impression, supported by the occasional but conspicuous Britishisms that issue from the mouths of American characters in the Netflix seasons, that Brooker isn’t getting (or isn’t taking to heart) enough feedback on his scripts. One benefit of the anthology format—going back to Black Mirror‘s classic forerunner, The Twilight Zoneis how well it serves TV’s distributed writing process, giving individual writers the opportunity to tell complete stories. Black Mirror may have already outlived its relevance. But if Brooker plans to keep it going beyond 2019, he’d do well to abandon the auteurist approach and incorporate some paranoid voices from outside his own brain.


Entertainment – TIME

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Woody Harrelson photo used in investigation into lookalike beer thief

First a ‘Ross from Friends’ lookalike was snapped carrying beers after allegedly stealing a wallet in Blackpool, now a Woody Harrleson lookalike in New York has been pictured also making off with beer.
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Insurer sent $33,000 to a man struggling with addiction. He used the cash to go on a binge — and died

Jennifer Alba sifts through the boxes of photographs and documents. It’s a collection of what once was, and what her life has become. A mother sorting through pain.


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See How Philippe Starck and Kartell Used A.I. to Design a Chair

Creative sectors are experimenting more with artificial intelligence as fashion shows to art exhibitions have been using the technology to generate new forms of art and ideas. Thus, designer Philippe Starck was intrigued to see how A.I. might be used to solve a design manufacturing challenge, so he teamed up with furniture manufacturers Kartell and 3D software and engineering company Autodesk. Starck and Kartell have been longtime collaborators in the past, notably for their ubiquitous masters and ghost chairs, but this was the first time they had leveraged Autodesk and its technology to design a piece of furniture.

The prompt was to create a comfortable chair engineered to fit the human body using the least amount of material possible. Held to the standards of Starck and Kartell, the chair also needed to be structurally sound enough to pass any certification requirements, along with aesthetics that were minimal and sleek.

In order to get the algorithm to start thinking about the concepts, a conversation had to be started with leading questions like, “Artificial Intelligence, do you know how we can rest our bodies using the least amount of material?” Thus, the trio went through a series of conversations and prompts to get the computer to learn what they wanted to make. The video below shows the iterative process the team went through in order to achieve the final result.

“This is a research collaboration at the pinnacle of the industrial design world, resulting in one of the most creative outcome we’ve ever tried to achieve with generative design,” stated Mark Davis, senior director of design futures at Autodesk.

The chairs, aptly titled “A.I.” made their debut at Salone del Mobile in Milan this past week, which is billed as being the world’s first production chair created using artificial intelligence.

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Journalist says NBC and MSNBC boss used ‘menacing tone’ to advocate for DNC

An NBC News managing editor attempted to “bully” a freelance journalist into delaying a story as a favor to the Democratic National Committee, the reporter claims. Yashar Ali alleged in a series of tweets that Dafna Linzer, who oversees political coverage at NBC and MSNBC, pushed him — “in a menacing tone,” he claimed —…
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Helicopters are being used to rescue some of the 1,300 people aboard the stricken ship

About 1,300 passengers and crew are being evacuated Saturday from a cruise ship off Norway, Norwegian emergency services said.


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‘The Simpsons’ Boss Al Jean: Michael Jackson Used the Show to ‘Groom Boys’

Photo Illustration by The Daily Beast/Getty/Fox

With all due respect to series creators Matt Groening, James L. Brooks, and Sam Simon, themselves titans of comedy, the fate of The Simpsons forever shifted in 1991, when duo Al Jean and Mike Reiss took the reins.  

The Harvard pals, who’d served in the show’s writers’ room since its inception, assumed the role of showrunner in Season 3, and, with classic episodes like “Flaming Moe’s” and “Homer at the Bat,” it’s since been recognized by Springfield historians as the start of the animated sitcom’s so-called “Golden Age.” Jean and Reiss would remain showrunners through Season 4, and then, following a brief stint helming The Critic, Jean returned to The Simpsons in Season 10, and then resumed running the show in Season 13—and has continued ever since.

Of course, the premiere episode of Season 3, “Stark Raving Dad,” recently made headlines when the show’s chief creative team—including Jean, who co-wrote and produced the episode with Reiss—decided to pull it after seeing the documentary Leaving Neverland, wherein James Safechuck and Wade Robson recounted, in graphic detail, the child sexual abuse they allegedly suffered at the hands of music legend Michael Jackson. Jackson provided guest vocals in the episode, playing the character of Leon Kompowsky, a burly, institutionalized man claiming he’s the pop star. The episode was penned specifically for Jackson, a fan of the show, with the icon demanding that a scene be included wherein he and Bart Simpson create a song together. In light of the documentary, the lyrics of that song seem troubling, to say the least.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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3.8.19 Sell, donate, or recycle used goods; Privacy battles over home security cameras

Clark discusses the best ways to sell, donate, or recycle used goods; A privacy battle is brewing when it comes to home security cameras – especially doorbells. Should law enforcement have a right to the video on your device? 

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The post 3.8.19 Sell, donate, or recycle used goods; Privacy battles over home security cameras appeared first on Clark Howard.

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‘Leaving Neverland’ Part One Recap: 2 Men Say Michael Jackson Used His Fame to Sexually Abuse Them as Boys

The first episode of HBO’s documentary aired Sunday night, describing how he became close to two boys and presenting detailed allegations that he repeatedly had sex with them.
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You can buy used Cellebrite iPhone hacking tools for cheap on eBay

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Hacking a smartphone just got a whole lot cheaper. 

A tool once favored by law enforcement for pulling data off locked phones is now available to the general public. We can’t imagine the Israel-based company behind the Cellebrite hacking device is all that pleased with its newly expanded customer base, but here we are. There’s not much it can do about it at the moment, as the sales are taking place on eBay — where a quick search shows numerous used models listed for prices as low as $ 50. 

According to Forbes, which first reported the news, a brand new Cellebrite device will set law enforcement back around $ 6,000. Things are quite a bit cheaper on the online auction site, where one seller has what appear to be 10 used models for sale ranging in price between $ 50 to $ 70.  Read more…

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As genetic data expand, researchers urge caution in how predictors of education outcomes are used

Authors of a new review article warn that as the predictive power of genes tied to learning and educational outcomes increases and access to genetic data expands, researchers, educators, and policymakers must be cautious in how they use such data, interpret related findings, and, in the not-too-distant future, apply genetics-informed student interventions.
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Drake Used His Grammy Acceptance Speech to Question the Importance of the Grammys

At Sunday night’s 61st Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles, Drake — who was largely expected to sit this one out, as he has done for the last several years — surprised viewers by showing up to accept the Grammy for Best Rap Song for his smash hit “God’s Plan.” But it was his acceptance speech that stole the show, as the Canadian rapper took his time onstage to rebuke the musical establishment and send a shout-out to artists who may not be receiving recognition from organizations like the Recording Academy.

“We play an opinion-based sport, not a factual-based sport,” Drake said. “This is a business where sometimes it’s up to a bunch of people that might not understand what a mixed race kid from Canada might have to say or a fly Spanish girl from New York.” He continued: “If there’s people who have regular jobs who are coming out in the rain, in the snow, spending their hard earned money to buy tickets to come to your shows, you don’t need this right here, I promise you that. You already won.” And then, although it seemed that Drake had more to say, he was cut off both on the telecast and live in the theater.

Drake has been nominated for dozens of Grammys in his rap career, but has only won four, including this year’s prize. The last time he attended the Grammys was back in 2013. His album Scorpion is also nominated for Album of the Year. And although he did end up dropping by this year’s ceremony, he reportedly declined to take on a performance slot.


Entertainment – TIME

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How the Nazis Used the Rule of Law Against Jewish Lawyers

German Federal Bar

“Abraham, Rudolf … 07/01/1901 Berlin – March 1943 Auschwitz”

“Haberland, Kurt Dr. … 10/17/1896 Berlin – 06/05/1942 Mauthausen”

“Landsberger, Egon Dr. … 02/18/1896 Berlin – 01/30/1941 Dachau”

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These 6 Stores Buy Used Clothes. Here’s How to Get the Best Cash Offer

Do me a favor and take a quick look in your closet. Overflowing, right?

Well, there’s a solution to that problem: selling your used clothes.

It’s a win-win, and you don’t have to wait for a spring-cleaning binge to get started. In fact, you should do it seasonally to stay in vogue.

So tear a page from the Marie Kondo playbook and make one big pile of all your clothes. Yes, even your winter gear from the living room closet. Definitely the swimsuit collection in the basement. And all the baby shower clothes that you never even used, too.

You may surprise yourself with the amount of clothes you have once you get them all in one place. Kondo recommends that as you sift through your stuff, you ask yourself, “Does this item spark joy?”

Nope? Then sell it.

Where to Sell Used Clothes

Plenty of apps and websites like Poshmark, Threadflip, Etsy and eBay allow you to sell your clothes online. But maybe you don’t have the technical know-how (or the patience) to do it yourself. Don’t fret. There are several other brick-and-mortar places to pawn off your used clothes, shoes, handbags, accessories — even baby clothes, toys and supplies — to get cash in your pocket by the end of the day.

A woman shops for clothing at Upscale Cheapskate, a trendy thrift store.

Uptown Cheapskate

Want to pop some tags? Uptown Cheapskate is your place. It’s located in 21 states and is a cross between a trendy boutique and a thrift store for young adults. You can sell or trade in men’s and women’s clothes at any of its locations. Trade-ins get 25% bonus store credit.

Brands that do well at Uptown Cheapskate include Urban Outfitters, Levi’s and H&M. If you’re unsure if your clothes will fit in style-wise, visit its website for more info on trending brands and styles.

Buffalo Exchange

Founded back in 1974, Buffalo Exchange has remained family owned as it has expanded to 19 states and the District of Columbia. And if you don’t live in one of those areas, the clothing exchange has a sell-by-mail program. The company is a firm believer in reusing and recycling clothes to reduce waste and pollution (and save cash). Each store also partners with local charities.

Buffalo Exchange accepts a wide array of clothes for both men and women — vintage, athletic wear, plus sizes and more. Contrary to its name, it does not accept bison at this time. Sorry in advance.

Clothes Mentor

Clothes Mentor is a one-stop shop for fashionable women’s clothing sized 0 to 26 and maternity wear. It’s a hub for those who want designer brands without designer price tags.

Clothes that sell well include Armani, Banana Republic, Saks Fifth Avenue, White House Black Market and others. Shoes, accessories, jewelry and handbags are also accepted. 

Clothes Mentor has 143 stores across 30 states and, at certain locations, offers personal shoppers who tailor outfits to suit your tastes.

Plato’s Closet

Ah, the ole standby, Plato’s Closet. You may not have known this was a clothing exchange store, but it’s likely that you’ve caught a glimpse of one of its more than 470 locations in North America — probably tucked between your local Chinese buffet and the grocery store.

Plato’s is Winmark Corp.’s most successful clothing exchange franchise, and it’s aimed at teens and young adults. Everyday styles from Abercrombie & Fitch, American Eagle, H&M, Nike and Obey are typically in demand. Plato’s Closet also buys athletic wear, shoes and accessories.

To see if your wardrobe surplus is a good fit for Plato’s, browse its website for other brands and styles that sell well.

Style Encore

Another solid option from Winmark Corp. is Style Encore. It’s like Plato’s sibling, only slightly older and more sophisticated.

Style Encore accepts women’s clothing from brands like Banana Republic, Calvin Klein, Coach and Kate Spade. Like Clothes Mentor, Style Encore has personal stylists to help you look like a million bucks (without spending a million).

It’s Winmark’s newest clothing exchange brand, so locations aren’t as comprehensive as Plato’s. Double-check the store locator to find the closest one to you.

Once Upon a Child

Last but not least in Winmark’s clothing resale portfolio is Once Upon a Child.

It’s no surprise that child care expenses are a budget buster, but this store can help keep costs down when it comes to baby clothes, supplies and even furniture.

In addition to children’s clothes sized preemie to youth 20, Once Upon a Child will buy used cribs, cradles, strollers, baby electronics, halloween costumes and toys. Even more good news for parents: You won’t have to look very far. Once Upon a Child has more than 350 stores across the U.S. and Canada.

Local Consignment Shops

If none of the above stores fit the bill, you can always try your nearest consignment shop.

These shops work a little differently than clothing exchanges, because consignment stores may not pay you until your item sells. That means it’s unlikely you’ll walk out with a pocketful of cash. It’s also difficult to predict what brands they will buy, because most local stores don’t have databases and metrics to go off of. Sales are often based on personal taste or season.

But hey, anything is better than leaving unused clothes tucked away in the furthest corner of your shelf for years to come.

How to Get the Most Cash From Your Clothes

A thrift store owner goes through clothing a customer brought in to sell.

Some things are guesswork when trying to sell your clothes. Stock and styles change, so it’s hard to say for sure which brand or outfit will sell. However, there are a few things you should always take into consideration, no matter the item or the store.

Following these few guidelines will ensure you get the best quote possible.

Clean and Fold Your Clothes

If it seems like I’m wagging my finger, it’s because I’m wagging my finger.

Almost every store listed above recommends washing your clothes before taking them in. Since your payout is based on an associate’s quote after they carefully check each item, you don’t want dirt or food caked to your shirt. It’ll definitely go in the “no” pile.

Likewise, super wrinkly clothes come across as unwashed, and you don’t want to give that impression. So be sure to fold them neatly before taking them in.

Use a Nice Basket or Hamper to Carry Your Clothes

Quick! What do you think of when you see trash bags?

Trash, right? Not clothes.

Presentation matters. The associates checking your clothes don’t want to sift through trash bags. So after you’ve washed all the clothes you want to sell, fold them and place them in a basket, hamper or box that you can take to the store.

Check for Damage or Pit Stains

If you were a shopper, would you buy a shirt that had pit stains or a missing pocket? Didn’t think so. The stores work the same way. They don’t want damaged, stained or heavily faded clothing.

Before you take your clothes in, examine them under a bright light to check for tears or discoloration.

Pro-tip: In general, to keep colors bright, you can soak your clothes in salt. Only wash them as needed — inside out and in cool water to avoid fading.

Sell Your Clothes Often

Buffalo Exchange’s biggest tip is to buy or sell your clothes every three months. That way, your clothes cache will always be in style, which means more money in your pocket when you sell.

Since most clothing exchanges buy with seasons in mind, it may be best to wait till spring or summer before purging your bathing suits.

Unless you live in Florida. Then January’s probably fine.

Adam Hardy is a staff writer on the Make Money team at The Penny Hoarder. He believes in the life-changing magic of selling all most of your things. Read his full bio here, or say hi on Twitter @hardyjournalism.

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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‘I used to have thick hair, until one day, I went completely bald’

Words by Beatrice Travers

I used to have very thick hair, which I’d unsuccessfully tried to manage since my teenage years. I tried every hairstyle under the sun: short (too strict), long (fell into my eyes), half up-do (made my long nose stick out), fringe (made my narrow forehead disappear).

Then in 2012, at the age of 56, I suddenly lost all my hair. I first noticed that something was wrong, when I made a regular trip to see my hairdresser, Sophie, that summer. She found a bald patch the size of a pound coin at the back of my head. ‘Don’t worry too much about it,’ she said, ‘but perhaps speak to a dermatologist.’

Only slightly rattled I rang the dermatologist and booked the earliest appointment available, which was late December. I didn’t give it another thought and in October I went on holiday with my husband. A couple of weeks later I was back at the salon, and to my dismay Sophie found two new bald patches.

I hadn’t noticed a thing. My husband and I had just retired and were just making the most of life. November came, and my patches seemed no bigger and hadn’t multiplied as far as I could tell. I was confident the dermatologist would help my hair grow back; I’ve known people suffer from alopecia at some stages in their lives, and it all went back to normal.

When I still had all my hair, in 2012.

Then one morning I woke up and my pillow was covered in hair. I clutched my head and pulled out a handful of brown hair. Panic rose inside me and that’s when I started crying, when finally the realisation that I was losing all of my hair dawned on me.

My husband looked at me, stunned, not knowing what to do. When I finally shook myself out of that stupor, I felt I had to do something, although I knew deep down there was nothing I could do.

We went to the local chemist and I stupidly asked him whether he had a shampoo for hair loss, or lotion (or possibly some extra strong glue) that would keep what was left of my thinning hair in place. He looked at me with a thin smile and said he was sorry, he couldn’t do anything, I seemed to have alopecia and he even said he thought that I would eventually lose all of my hair.

I went home and washed away what was left of my hair. I watched it twirl down the drain. I felt neither loss nor regret; I just thought it was odd, puzzled at what life can throw at you sometimes. In a way I felt lucky, because I knew my condition wasn’t life threatening. I went out and bought myself a woolen hat from Marks & Spencer.

Eventually, I was diagnosed with Alopecia Universalis. I learned it was an auto-immune disease, which attacks your hair follicles and stops hair growth. There is no known cause – some say stress is a factor – nor a known cure. You can be given corticosteroid injections if you only suffer from small bald spots, but they wouldn’t do that with me. I was given some creams and lotions that I dutifully applied for a couple of months, whilst knowing there was only a 20% chance of regrowth.

In 2019, without my wig. I lost my lashes and eyebrows too, so had to get them tattooed on.

It’s now 2019 and my hair has never grown back. I very quickly lost all the rest of the hair on my body; my skin is as smooth as a baby’s. I was worried I wouldn’t feel feminine anymore, but I never felt sorry for myself after the diagnosis. I’ve been wearing wigs for the past seven years, and much like with my haircuts before, I’ve been experimenting to find one that suits me and more importantly, is comfortable to wear.

But life’s never perfect, even wigs have a mind of their own. They can be difficult on a rainy or windy day. So, like with real hair, there are sometimes bad hair days.

At the time, I was self-conscious around other people, but I needn’t have worried. My husband treated me with the same patience and kindness as always. At first, I wouldn’t take off my wig around him, even in bed, but when I did (turns out sleeping with a wig on is not as comfortable as you’d think), he simply stroked my scalp and teased, ‘I always thought you had a tiny head!’

I finally found a wig that suits me

I told a few close friends, who were just as supportive – they praised me for being positive, which I didn’t deserve because it was not an effort. I have to add that I would hate to be seen without a wig in public. I know some people do it, it may even be fashionable but I could never pluck up the courage, mostly because I don’t like the way I look without my hair.

I think the reason that I found it fairly easy to deal with, is because of my age. I have a couple of my friends who have been through tougher times than me, and also I’m not looking for a new partner, which could cause a lot of heartache to younger women with my condition.

Anyway, I’m very close to my female friends and talking about sex, the menopause, etc. has never been an issue. We’ve even laughed about what happened, ‘think of all the money you’ll save by not going to the hairdresser!’

Every cloud…

The post ‘I used to have thick hair, until one day, I went completely bald’ appeared first on Marie Claire.

Marie Claire

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‘Bump Stocks’ Used In Mass Shootings Banned

At a time when America is going through unprecedented levels of gun violence, the Trump administration has banned the use of bump-stock devices — accessories that can turn a semi-automatic weapon into an automatic one.

The government was under immense pressure for action on curbing the widespread use of guns in the face of multiple deadly shootings year after year.

In the deadliest attack in mo
RTT – Political News

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How to Buy Used Furniture — With No Regrets

Furnishing your new home can be fun and creative… but it can also cost a pretty penny. And that extra expenditure is especially intimidating if you’re a young adult or college student just moving out on your own for the first time.

Fortunately, there are more resources than ever before for purchasing used furniture, and doing so can save you a heap of money. (Case in point: I was able to furnish my entire apartment for less than $ 1,000, thanks mostly to Craigslist.)

But as amazing as some deals can be, used furniture can also be a bit of a gamble. And the last thing you want to do is waste money on a piece that ends up only lasting a few weeks… or even worse, a piece that introduces a population of unwanted, six-legged guests into your new home.

We spoke to a few thrift-savvy experts to get the down low on what to look for — and avoid — when shopping for pre-owned household goods.

Here’s what we found out.

Shop Around

Like everything else in our 2018 world, the search for used furniture has been transformed by the internet. Along with classic options, like consignment shops and curbside steals, you’ve also got digital alternatives like Craigslist or Letgo.

Don’t get us wrong — you can definitely find some amazing deals buying used furniture directly from the owner(s). But you can also run into some lemons… and you won’t have any protections in place to help you as you might with an actual business.

Pieces on sale at a consignment store have usually been vetted before they’re put on sale, giving you an added layer of insurance against accidentally buying a dud.

However, they won’t be quite as cheap as the stuff you’ll see elsewhere. Thanks to hefty commission agreements with suppliers, consignment store prices are somewhat inflated, says Andrew Zell, who works for junk removal service JDog United. Zell says that while pieces are marked down over time, they may be pulled from the floor before reaching a cost that “true frugal shoppers would consider reasonable.”

Good thing there are tons of other in-person options for used furniture seekers.

“Shop at estate sales, flea markets and secondhand shops,” suggests Darcy Segura, a Dallas-based vintage furniture buyer and reseller. “It’s no secret that midcentury modern furniture and decor are hot commodities nowadays, so such sales and shops are often where you can find quality, well-built furniture at reasonable prices,” she says.

Assess All Soft Pieces for Pests — Not Just Mattresses

A collection of chairs are stacked together at Habitat Restore.

Most buyers know bedbugs can lurk in used mattresses. But they can just as easily nestle into all sorts of other upholstered items, including sofa sets and even dining room chairs.

Alexander Crawley, an aptly-named entomology consultant for London-based Fantastic Pest Control, encourages buyers to take the time they need to inspect prospective pieces carefully, even if the seller seems sincere. “It’s absolutely possible for someone not to realize a piece of furniture is infested and sell it to you.”

“Check for dark stains or [insect] eggshells along the seams,” he suggests. “Check every nook and cranny, including the back of the furniture. Be sure to inspect the joints and all the dark areas.”

Since bedbugs can survive and lay dormant for a long time between “blood meals” (shudder), there’s no guarantee they’re not present just because a piece has been out of use or locked in a storage facility for a while. In fact, there’s no guarantee they’re not present even if the piece seems to pass inspection. “Even if you don’t find anything right away,” Crawley says, “keep checking periodically to see if there [are] any signs of an infestation.”

Yikes.

Along with bedbugs, upholstered furniture can also house fleas, carpet beetles and dust mites, all of which can be extremely difficult to get rid of. So if you’re at all in doubt about the cleanliness of a potential piece of furniture, leave it — this is one case where it’s way better to be safe than sorry.

Psst: Wood furniture can get infested, too

Wooden furniture is on display at Habitat Restore.

It makes sense that bugs could bed down in the soft materials we use to create cushions. But insects are nothing if not adaptable, and many have evolved to live inside less-hospitable-seeming materials.

For example, wood furniture serves as a prime nesting substrate for powderpost beetles — especially hardwoods commonly used in furniture construction, like walnut, oak, hickory and maple.

Unlike bedbugs, fleas and dust mites, powderpost beetles rarely bite pets or people. But they can turn a beautiful piece of wood furniture into dust in a flash. And if your home features wood construction, a serious infestation might even cause damage to its structural integrity.

So when you’re looking at a potential desk or table, be on the lookout for signs of stowaways. The most telling sign of powderposts are the sets of tiny exit holes, measuring from 1/32 to 1/16 of an inch in diameter.

Pay Attention to the Material

A woman looks at dressers for sale at a used furniture store.

Whether you’re purchasing your furniture new or used, it’s obvious that some materials are sturdier than others. But while some flimsiness might be serviceable in an Ikea dresser you’ve just built yourself, if you’re buying something that’s already seen some use, quality is key.

“Don’t fall for today’s replicas,” Segura emphasizes — a tack she takes when doing her own thrifting. Those particle board pieces might be pretty, but they’re not built to last.

Perhaps surprisingly, in many cases, older can be better. After all, particle board wasn’t even a thing until the 1950s.

“I’ve found pieces that are at least 70 years old that, while they may need to be refurbished a bit, are as good as new, durability-wise,” Segura says. “Those are my favorite finds.”

Certain types of materials are naturally more durable than others. Teak, for instance, has long been a staple in Southeast Asian furniture making — not only for its beauty and strength, but also for its resilience. Teak contains natural oils and silica that make it resistant to water, mildew, fungi and stains, according to Fariz Zakka, who works for Indonesian furniture supplier Posteak Furniture.

Other hardwoods like ash, beech, birch, cherry, mahogany, oak and walnut all have a great reputation for high quality, says Zell — and they are thus usually more expensive to obtain. So if you find a good-looking piece on the cheap, jump on it!  

Get up Close and Personal 

The brand name of a dresser designer is shown on a baby blue dresser for sale at Habitat Restore.

When it comes to finding a great deal on a used piece of furniture, little details matter — not only to help avoid pest infestations, but also to verify build quality.

For instance, many pieces of well-made vintage wood furniture will feature dovetail joints as opposed to a joint made of nails or other fixtures. It’s worth taking a close look at those seams, anyway — corners and joints are “more likely to show signs of rot and other damage,” according to Segura.

Another indicator of high quality in a dresser or desk? A brand name, which you’ll find on the interior left side of the uppermost drawer in premier furniture, according to Zell. Look for “a stamped logo from the company that designed, developed and assembled the piece.” On occasion, this information might be inscribed on a brass plate. Not only can the logo help you recognize high-quality furniture faster, it also allows you to check out the company online and learn more about its reputation.

Armed with these tips, your used-furniture shopping trip should be less stressful and more exciting — and it will supply you with some high-quality, cozy pieces on which to kick back, relax and enjoy those sweet savings.

Jamie Cattanach (@jamiecattanach) is a writer whose work has been featured at Fodor’s, Yahoo, SELF, The Motley Fool, Roads & Kingdoms and other outlets.

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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Here’s the Exact Red Lipstick Priyanka Chopra Used for Her Wedding to Nick Jonas

ESC: Priyanka Chopra Everyone is talking about Priyanka Chopra’s wedding glow.
In case you missed it, the Indian-born actress married singer Nick Jonas with a cross-cultural, week-long wedding celebration…

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Girlfriend in $400,000 GoFundMe Scam Now Says Her Boyfriend & Homeless Vet ‘Used’ Her

A lawyer for Kate McClure, the New Jersey woman who was allegedly involved in scamming more than $ 400,000 out of some 14,000 GoFundMe donors says she was “conned” and “used” by her boyfriend and the homeless vet.

via People:

McClure, 28, is facing conspiracy charges for allegedly helping to launch the GoFundMe scam alongside her 39-year-old boyfriend Mark D’Amico and Johnny Bobbitt, a 35-year-old homeless veteran who had been living on the Philadelphia streets. But her attorney, James Gerrow, says she’s simply a victim in the ordeal.

“They used her face, they used her image,” Gerrow said of D’Amico and Bobbitt during an interview with Today. “If you talk to Kate’s friends, they will tell you that she is a kind and charitable individual and D’Amico knew this and he played on that along with Bobbitt.”

However, an investigation conducted by the Burlington County Prosecutor’s Office paints a different picture of McClure.

A complaint obtained by PEOPLE states that D’Amico and McClure met Bobbitt during a trip to a local gambling casino about one month before they launched their alleged scheme. As their story went, Bobbitt and McClure first met last October when she became stranded on a Philadelphia highway, prompting Bobbitt to spend his last $ 20 to pay for her gas.

The trio allegedly used the moving story to launch the GoFundMe campaign and bring in thousands of donations. However, an alleged text message from McClure to a friend revealed the truth: “The gas part is completely made up, but the guy isn’t. I had to make something up to make people feel bad.”

Gerrow did not immediately respond to a request for comment from PEOPLE. Bobbitt’s lawyer declined to comment and D’Amico’s attorney did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request.

All three have been charged with second-degree theft by deception and conspiracy to commit theft by deception.

“The ‘pay it forward’ story that drove this fundraiser might seem too good to be true. Unfortunately it was,” Burlington County Prosecutor Scott Coffina said during a Thursday news conference, adding that the trio “hoodwinked” the donors. “The entire campaign was predicated on a lie.”

The heartwarming tale convinced thousands of people to donate to the group’s GoFundMe to get Bobbitt off the streets.

Their plan worked. After fees, donations amounted to more than $ 367,000, all of which was deposited into D’Amico’s accounts. The couple gave Bobbitt $ 75,000 of the money, according to Coffina.

“But he wanted his fair share of the take,” the prosecutor added, noting that McClure and D’Amico spent their share on lavish items like handbags and trips and even had plans for a book deal.

So, Bobbitt accused the couple of withholding the money, with his attorneys filing a civil suit in August on his behalf in an attempt to get the remaining funds. But by then the money was long gone. Coffina said on Thursday that D’Amico and McClure had “squandered” the money by mid-March — about four months after setting up the GoFundMe.

“[Bobbitt] deserves our … sympathy and concern for the homelessness he has experienced as well as his publicized struggle with addiction,” Coffina said on Thursday. “But it is imperative to keep in mind that [Bobbitt] was fully complicit with this scheme to defraud contributors, promoting the campaign in multiple media appearances and posing with D’Amico and McClure for a Philadelphia Inquirer story in front of a gas station that he did not buy gas from.”

In a statement to PEOPLE, GoFundMe officials announced that, All donors who contributed to this GoFundMe campaign will receive a full refund. GoFundMe always fully protects donors, which is why we have a comprehensive refund policy in place.”

“GoFundMe will process all refunds in the coming day,” the statement continued.

Lock them ALL up.

The post Girlfriend in $ 400,000 GoFundMe Scam Now Says Her Boyfriend & Homeless Vet ‘Used’ Her appeared first on lovebscott – celebrity news.

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Hero used a broom to fight gunman during Tallahassee yoga class killing

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20 Towns That Used to Run America

While some cities rose to prominence early in our nation’s history and stayed there, others sat in the driver’s seat of progress for a narrow window of time, yet had an indelible impact on American life. Scroll through for a look at some of the overlooked cities that have had a tremendous impact on American history.
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The President Used a Game of Thrones Meme. The Cast Wasn’t Having It

President Donald Trump invoked Game of Thrones on Twitter Friday to promote his Administration’s announcement on reimposing sanctions on Iran.

Appearing to take inspiration from the HBO series’ golden letters, ominous grey sky and signature tagline (“Winter is coming”), Trump took to Twitter to say “Sanctions Are Coming,” referencing an earlier announcement by the Trump Administration that it would reimpose all U.S. sanctions on Iran that had been lifted through the 2015 nuclear deal from when Barack Obama was President.

HBO responded quickly in statement released to Entertainment Weekly, saying, “We were not aware of this messaging and would prefer our trademark not be misappropriated for political purposes.”

Maisie Williams, who plays Arya Stark on the show, was also quick to comment, tweeting “Not today.” Sophie Turner, who plays Sansa Stark on Game of Thrones, commented with a simple “Ew.”

Creators and several cast members from the show have made their feelings about the President known in the past.

“I think Joffrey is now the king in America,” George R.R. Martin, who created the books on which the show is based, told Entertainment Weekly in 2017. “And he’s grown up just as petulant and irrational as he was when he was 13 in the books.”

Kit Harrington, who plays Jon Snow, once called the President a “con artist.”

The President’s tweet follows his speech at the United Nations in September, when he called on world leaders to cut purchases of Iran’s oil. Friday’s news also marks the second round of sanctions the U.S. has reimposed since Trump announced in May that the U.S. would withdraw from the Iran nuclear deal, which had been a frequent target of critique from Trump before and during his presidency. The sanctions will affect finance, shipping and energy sectors in Iran, as well as, with limited exceptions, third-party countries that import Iranian oil or do business with Iranian financial institutions.

For Trump’s detractors, the critical reactions were swift.


Entertainment – TIME

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Apple’s New Models Are Here. That Means You’ll Get Great Deals on Used Ones

It’s the second most wonderful time of the year: new iPad and MacBook season! (The first obviously being new iPhone season.)

Since Apple unveiled the iPhone XS and iPhone XR in September, we’ve been waiting with bated breath for the next generation of iPad Pro, MacBook Air and Mac Mini.

Well, that day has come, and it means one thing to Penny Hoarders: deals on gently used and refurbished Apple products.

That’s right. Those of us who don’t care about having the latest and greatest tech can catch some great deals on upgrading our slow-as-molasses MacBooks and first-generation iPad Bricks.

How to Find Deals on Used Apple Laptops, iPads and More

But before you buy the first MacBook you find in an unmarked van, there are some simple but important steps you need to follow if you want to avoid the duds and get yourself a deal.

1. Know Where to Look

New Apple products are never cheap, so most people will try to sell their old models on sites like Facebook Marketplace, Craigslist or OfferUp, because it’s where they can make the most money.

If you meet a seller one-on-one, always meet in a public place, like a police station or Starbucks. You should feel safe, and there should be other people around.

You can find deals at pawn shops or online trade-in shops like Gazelle. If you want to buy from Apple, you’ll start to notice newer models on its “certified refurbished” page. As of this writing, you can find refurbished MacBook Air models made as recently as June 2017.

2. Research the Product You Want

Carmen Mandato/ The Penny Hoarder

There’s no store associate to guide your Craigslist journey. You’ll need to do your own research on what you want, what you don’t need and what’s a fair price for it.

There are some great guides online that can help you decide between Apple’s lineup of MacBooks, iPads, Apple Watches, etc.

Ultimately, you’ll probably have to be a little flexible on your desired specs if you want the best deal. But who knows, you could get lucky.

3. Test It Out

This is the single most important part of buying used or refurbished Apple products. On sites like Facebook Marketplace, you should always try before you buy. If you’re buying online, always get a warranty and try all these features ASAP:

  • Turn the device on and off.
  • Test the camera.
  • Test the sound.
  • Test internet connectivity and browsing.
  • Test the ports with a USB drive, headphones, etc.
  • Check out the tightness of the hinge.

You’ll also want to make sure the model and specs listed are accurate by checking the serial number on the product.

4. Make a Call (or Two)

Give Apple a call to see if the product you’re buying is refurbished or has been reported stolen. You’ll find suggestions online to call Apple store customer service at 800-676-2775 to find out if your product is refurbished.

When I tried it with a laptop I purchased recently, the customer service representative couldn’t answer my question, but he was able to talk to someone who could confirm my laptop wasn’t refurbished. So be persistent, even if the first person you talk to doesn’t know what you want.

You may also want to call the local police station to make sure the serial number doesn’t match with an item that’s been reported stolen.

5. Make Sure the Product Is Restored and Removed From Account

Alexandra Vincent/The Penny Hoarder

Once you’ve decided you want to buy the product, it’s your responsibility to make sure the product is restored to factory settings.

If you’re purchasing an iPhone, iPad, Apple Watch or even an iPod Touch, you’ll also need to make sure the seller removes the product from their Apple account so that you’ll be able to add it to yours.

6. Don’t Bring Cash

And finally, never bring big wads of cash to a one-on-one sale. If you’re buying anything that costs more than a couple hundred dollars, get a free money order from Amscot.

Pro tip: If you want to negotiate the price, get multiple money orders so you’re not tied down to the asking price.

Jen Smith is a staff writer at The Penny Hoarder. She gives money-saving and debt-payoff tips on Instagram at @savingwithspunk.

The Penny Hoarder Promise: We provide accurate, reliable information. Here’s why you can trust us and how we make money.

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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Kanye West No Longer Supports Donald Trump? – ‘I’ve Been Used’

It looks like Kanye West is finally realizing he made a mistake by supporting Donald Trump and he is now admitting he was ‘used.’ This is not a revelation for the rest of the world but at least he figured it out in the end, right? Better late than never!

The rapper seems to be throwing away his MAGA hat and choosing to stay away from politics altogether.

Ye took to social media earlier today to make his political views very clear, just a few weeks after a very embarrassing White House meeting with Donald Trump.

Has Kim Kardashian’s husband turned his back on the president?

Now, Ye admits he may have been used, in particular by Trump supporter Candace Owens.

On his Twitter, Kanye started by writing: ‘I support creating jobs and many opportunities for people who need them the most, I support prison reform, common-sense gun laws which will make our world safer. I support those who risk their very lives to serve and to protect us, and I support holding people who misuse their power accountable for it.’

‘I believe in love and in compassion for people seeking asylum and parents who are fighting to protect their children from violence and war.’

His views on those ‘seeking asylum’ are definitely in conflict with the Donald’s stance on the matter.

Slamming the people fleeing crime and drug wars as well as poverty and heading to the U.S. from Central America, Trump tweeted: ‘Many gang members and some very bad people are mixed into the caravan heading to our Southern Border.’

As for Kanye, he also decided to distance himself from his ‘Blexit’ line which was meant to encourage African-Americans to exit the Democratic party.

‘I introduced Candace to the person who made the logo and they did not want their name on it so she used mine. I never wanted any association with Blexit. I have nothing to do with it,’ Kanye said in response to a statement that ‘Blexit is a renaissance and I am blessed to say that this logo, these colors, were created by my dear friend and fellow superhero Kanye West.’

Ye went on to thank ‘my family, loved ones, and community for supporting my ACTUAL beliefs and my vision for a better world. My eyes are wide open now and I realize I have been used to spread messages I do not believe in. I’m distancing myself from politics and completely focusing on being creative!’

That’s all his loyal fans have been wanting for the longest time!

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Chinese kit ‘putting all of us at risk’ if used in 5G

Security threats from Chinese companies building 5G networks could end up “putting all of us at risk” if they are not tackled quickly, according to a former security minister.
Tech News – Latest Technology and Gadget News | Sky News

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Fertility apps are increasingly being used as contraception and one has even gained FDA approval

In August, the FDA approved a mobile fertility app called Natural Cycles as a method of contraception. It's the first time that the U.S. has allowed a mobile app to advertise itself as a medical device that prevents pregnancy.
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