Bill Gates’ newest mission: Curing Alzheimer’s

(CNN)It’s one of the holy grails of science: a cure for Alzheimer’s. Currently, there is no treatment to stop the disease, let alone slow its progression. And billionaire Bill Gates thinks he will change that.

“I believe there is a solution,” he told me without hesitation.
“Any type of treatment would be a huge advance from where we are today,” he said, but “the long-term goal has got to be cure.”
    I had the chance to sit down with Gates recently to talk about his newest initiative. He sat in front of our cameras exclusively to tell me how he hopes to find a cure to a disease that now steals the memories and other cognitive functions of 47 million people around the world.
    For Gates, the fight is personal. He is investing $50 million of his own money into the Dementia Discovery Fund, a private-public research partnership focused on some of the more novel ideas about what drives the brain disease, such as looking at a brain cell’s immune system. It’s the first time Gates has made a commitment to a noncommunicable disease. The work done through his foundation has focused primarily on infectious diseases such as HIV, malaria and polio.
    I have interviewed Gates many times over the years, in countries around the world. He was more engaged on this topic of Alzheimer’s than I’ve ever seen before.
    Today, Alzheimer’s disease is the most common form of dementia and the sixth leading cause of death in the United States, where a new case is diagnosed every 66 seconds. More than 5 million Americans live with the disease, at a cost of $259 billion a year. Without any treatment, those numbers are projected to explode to 16 million Americans with the disease, at a cost of over $1 trillion a year, by 2050.
    “The growing burden is pretty unbelievable,” the tech guru-turned-philanthropist told me. It’s something he knows personally. “Several of the men in my family have this disease. And so, you know, I’ve seen how tough it is. That’s not my sole motivation, but it certainly drew me in.”
    When he said, “I’m a huge believer in that science and innovation are going to solve most of the tough problems over time,” I could feel his optimism.
    He told me he has spent the past year investigating and talking to scientists, trying to determine how best to help move the needle toward treatment of the disease itself rather than just the symptoms.

    A disease turns 100

    It has been more than a century since the disease was identified by German physician Dr. Alois Alzheimer. He first wrote about it in 1906, describing the case of a woman named “Auguste D.” Alzheimer called it “a peculiar disease,” marked by significant memory loss, severe paranoia and other psychological changes.
    But it wasn’t until Alzheimer performed an autopsy on her brain that the case became even more striking. He found that her brain had shrunk significantly, and there were unusual deposits in and around the nerve cells.
    It would take another 80 years for scientists to identify what those deposits were: plaques and tangles of proteins called amyloid and tau. They have become hallmarks of the disease.
    Both amyloid and tau are naturally occurring proteins that can be found in healthy brain cells. But in a brain with Alzheimer’s, something goes haywire, causing parts of amyloid proteins to clump together and block the cell’s messaging pathways. Eventually, tau proteins begin to tangle up inside the neurons.
    All of this contributes to a breakdown of the neural highway that helps our brain cells communicate. These changes in the brain can begin years before anyone starts actually exhibiting any symptoms of memory loss or personality changes.
    Until recently, it’s been a challenge to understand the disease, let alone identify who has it. The only way to definitively diagnose Alzheimer’s is still after someone has died and their brain can be examined under the microscope, looking for the telltale amyloid plaques and tau tangles.

    A new hope

    “It’s gone slower than we all would have hoped. A lot of failed drug trials,” Gates told me. And he’s right. Since 2002, there have been more than 400 Alzheimer drug trials run and yet no treatments. There are some drugs prescribed to help with cognitive symptoms such as memory loss or confusion but nothing that actually targets Alzheimer’s.
    In the past five years, advanced imaging technology has allowed us to see tau and amyloid in living people.
    Dr. James Hendrix, who heads up the Alzheimer Association’s Global Science Innovation team, believes that this development is a game-changer. “You need good tools to find the right therapeutics,” he said.
    By identifying these biomarkers earlier, Hendrix told me, scientists can work on finding ways to prevent the brain from deteriorating.
    “If we can catch the earliest signs of Alzheimer’s, then we’re treating a mostly healthy brain, and keeping it mostly healthy. … It’s very difficult to repair the damage once it’s done,” he explained.
    Dr. Rudy Tanzi agrees that imaging has been essential in understanding the pathology of Alzheimer’s and potential treatments. Tanzi, a professor of neurology at Harvard, has been at the helm of Alzheimer’s research, discovering several of the genes associated with the disease.
    He points out that one of the greatest faults with some of the trials has not been in the treatment itself but in the application: too late in the disease’s progression, when symptoms are already occurring. “It’s like trying to give someone Lipitor when they have a heart attack,” he explained. “You had to do it earlier.”
    Tanzi said we need to think about Alzheimer’s like cancer or heart disease. “That’s how we’re going to beat the disease: early detection and early intervention.”

    Think different

    Most of the focus in Alzheimer’s research has been on tau and amyloid, what Gates likes to call “the mainstream.” With his donation, Gates hopes to spur research into more novel ideas about the disease, like investigating the role of the glial cells that activate the immune system of the brain or how the energy lifespan of a cell may contribute to the disease.
    “There’s a sense that this decade will be the one that we make a lot of progress,” Gates told me.
    Gates believes that it will be a combination of mainstream and out-of-the-box thinking that will lead to potential treatments in the near future.
    “Ideally, some of these mainstream drugs that report out in the next two or three years will start us down the path of reducing the problem. But I do think these newer approaches will eventually be part of that drug regimen that people take,” he said.

    See the latest news and share your comments with CNN Health on Facebook and Twitter.

    Has looking into Alzheimer’s research caused Gates to worry about his own health?
    “Anything where my mind would deteriorate” is, he said, one of his greatest fears. He’s seen the hardship it has caused in his own family. “I hope I can live a long time without those limitations.”
    So Gates is now focused on prevention, by exercising and staying mentally engaged. “My job’s perfect, because I’m always trying to learn new things and meeting with people who are explaining things to me. You know, I have the most fun job in the world,” he said with a smile.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/11/13/health/bill-gates-announcement-alzheimers/index.html

    30+ Before & After Pics That Will Make You Reconsider Shaving Your Beard

    It’s Movember folks! Movember and No-Shave November are two great causes which help to raise awareness of critical men’s health issues such as prostate and testicular cancer, as well as suicide and depression.

    Apart from the obvious benefits of getting blokes talking about the issues that affect them the most, this month is a great time to ditch the razor and let the beard roam free. We here at Bored Panda decided to ask our bros to send in their pics from their own beard journeys, and we were overwhelmed by the response!

    Scroll down to check out the transformations from baby-face to lumberjack below. Let us know which do you prefer in the comments and submit a photo of your makeover if you qualify!

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    http://www.boredpanda.com/before-after-growing-beard-no-shave-november/

    11 Weird Things That Relieve Stress & Make You Feel More Relaxed In Seconds

    11 Weird Things That Relieve Stress & Make You Feel More Relaxed In Seconds

    If you don’t take care of it, stress can turn into an ongoing, toxic cycle. You’re super stressed about work, or your friendships, or your relationship, or all of the above, and since you don’t always immediately know what to do about it, you get even stressed out, and the cycle just keeps going and going. Honestly, trying a few random, weird things that relieve stress is probably your best bet if you feel like you’ve already tried everything you can to help you relax, but have yet to see any real results.

    Stress can be debilitating, there’s no doubt about it. It doesn’t matter if you’re a student, or you’re working a full-time job, or even if you’re a traveling Instagrammer who posts beautiful pictures of beautiful places. gets stressed out from time to time. What really matters is whether or not you choose to cope with your stress in a healthy way, and how you choose to do so.

    There are tons of free, easy, and quick ways to relieve stress instantly. You don’t have to spend money on expensive workout classes, or talk your friends’ ears off  about the latest drama at work — unless you want to, in which case, go for it. But if you’re looking to find new ways to relieve stress, here are 10 kind of random, but seriously effective ways you can instantly relieve your anxiety in a matter of seconds.

    1Fake A Smile

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    Fake it ’til you make it, right? Although in general, forcing emotions isn’t the best idea, studies show that smiling, even when you don’t mean it, can trick your brain into feeling happier.

    A fake smile can reduce your stress in seconds, and who knows, it might even influence the atmosphere of whatever else is going on around you!

    2Put Your Thumb In Your Mouth And Blow On It

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    Yeah, I tried it too as soon as I read that. It’s true: Blowing on your thumb (if the air passage is totally blocked) will activate something called your vagus nerve, which in turn will decrease your heart rate and blood pressure.

    So if you can find some space at work to hide in a corner and suck your thumb, this is a really fast way to decrease pressure and relieve stress almost immediately.

    3Blow On Your Thumb

    If you can’t find some private space to suck on your thumb, subtly blowing cool air on it might do the trick, too. This is because your thumb has its own pulse, and blowing on it will slow the pulse and therefore decrease your stress.

    Since this one’s a little more low-key, it’s especially great to try when you’re at a stressful work event and can’t find an opportunity to sneak away.

    4Chew Some Gum

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    Chewing gum while you’re stressed has been shown to reduce your overall anxiety in any given situation, and it can lead to an overall more positive mood.

    This one could be tough, since chewing gum isn’t always professional in a lot of work environments. But if you’re out with friends or on your own, chewing gum is a great way to blow off stress without going out of your way.

    5Find Fractals

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    Fractals are patterns that you find organically in nature, such as the petals of a flower or the diametric shape of a spiderweb. Taking some time to gaze out at ocean waves, or to examine some pretty snowflakes, can reduce your stress by up to 60 percent.

    What’s more, you can start to make a point of exposing yourself to a fractal-rich environment once you’re more aware of them. For example, you can try to plan a walk to work where you pass through a garden.

    6Take A Deep Breath

    This one seems obvious, but you have to actually think about you’re breathing in order for this to really work. Deep breathing is no joke, and neither are the health effects you can reap if you do it right.

    Try to slow your breathing overall first, then inhale until your lungs are fully expanded, and slowly exhale. This type of deep breathing will slow your heart rate, and it also activates your parasympathetic nervous system, which controls the relaxation response, your body’s way of relieving stress.

    7Stand Near A Plant

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    Yep, you read that correctly. Simply surrounding yourself with plant life can reduce your stress instantly. A study by Washington State University revealed that the presence of plants in an office space instantly reduces blood pressure, and even increases productivity.

    If you’ve been looking for the perfect excuse to splurge on some succulents for your apartment or your work desk, this is your sign to do so, my friend.

    8Apply Pressure Between Your Second And Third Knuckles

    This is a very, um, unique, way to relieve stress, but it actually works.

    Apply pressure between the second and third knuckle of your finger, right where the finger meets the hand. This will activate a nerve that will help to reduce that awful fluttery feeling you get when you’re feeling super stressed out.

    9Try An Easy Yoga Pose

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    Yeah, you probably don’t always have time for a full hour of yoga, but that doesn’t mean you can’t reap the benefits of this meditative practice in a shorter amount of time.

    A few simple yoga poses can easily be done at home in mere minutes, and the movements will help encourage deep breathing as well as bodily awareness, both of which will promote relaxation.

    10Drink Some Green Tea

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    Green tea contains theanine, which is an amino acid that has been found to counteract the effects of caffeine. Since caffeine can increase your heart rate and increase your overall stress response, drinking green tea is a great way to counteract the body’s response to stressful situations.

    11Knock A Few Chores Off Of Your List

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    Doing repetitive motions that you’re familiar with is a great way to lower your stress — and get sh*t done!

    If you’re feeling seriously overwhelmed with anything in your life, one great strategy is to focus on some things you can do around your apartment that require motion, like cleaning your kitchen or taking out the trash. If you’re at work, use your lunch break to run some errands. Between the walking and the act of the chore itself, you’ll be sure to calm down a little in no time.

    Read more: https://elitedaily.com/p/11-weird-things-that-relieve-stress-make-you-feel-more-relaxed-in-seconds-5489460

    Let’s break down 15 terrible excuses from accused sexual harassers and predators.

    The world is currently being treated to a slow-rolling reveal of the alleged bad behavior of some of its most powerful men.

    And inevitably, with bad behavior comes excuses.

    It’s no surprise that prominent accused harassers and predators, once cornered, would try to wriggle out of accusations of sexual conduct and abuse. What is surprising is the variety in their attempts to justify their alleged behavior. Excuses by way of apology. Excuses by way of confession. Excuses by way of firm, uncompromising denial. All attempting to convey how they didn’t do what they’ve been accused of or that what they did do made sense to them in the moment. In some way, they’re the most revealing window into the personal, social, and cultural forces that enable their alleged misdeeds.

    Excuses, ultimately, reflect our beliefs about what’s just and fair. Which raises some questions: Do any of them actually put the behavior in a context that makes it, in some distressing way, understandable? Do they ever work? And what does it say about us if we believe them?

    Here are just some of the excuses we know they’ve tried:

    1. I’m from a different era, and this strange, new culture is confusing to me.

    To date, more than 50 women have accused Hollywood mega-producer Harvey Weinstein of engaging in a decades-long pattern of abusive behavior ranging from harassment to sexual coercion to rape. But lest “what he supposedly did” is coloring your impression of him, Weinstein wants you to remember he’s not an evil man: He’s just a recovering hippie!

    “I came of age in the ’60s and ’70s when all the rules about behavior and workplaces were different,” Weinstein wrote in a statement. “That was the culture then.”

    Harvey Weinstein. Photo by Rich Polk/Getty Images.

    Of course. Who doesn’t remember the ’60s and ’70s? Flower power! Free love! Cornering women in a hotel room and trying to force them to watch you shower! Though the millions of other people who made it through those turbulent decades without harassing or abusing anyone — or threatening them if they told anyone and then hiring ex-spies to help cover it up — might remember those decades slightly differently, Weinstein simply refuses to let the swingin’ spirit die. No matter the decade, his behavior is less “groovy” and more “galling.”

    Weinstein’s excuse depends on eliding two wildly different notions: (1) That America failed to take workplace harassment and sexual abuse seriously in the ’60s and ’70s, and (2) that it was OK back then — or perpetrated by anyone reared back then — as a result. While the first assertion is undeniable, the second is self-serving nonsense. Just because a behavior was ignored, tolerated, or even encouraged doesn’t make it remotely close to excusable.

    2. Hey, it’s not like I didn’t ask!

    Thus wrote comedian Louis C.K. in a widely praised (and widely derided) statement confirming a New York Times report that he had masturbated in front of almost half a dozen unwilling women.

    “At the time, I said to myself that what I did was O.K. because I never showed a woman my dick without asking first, which is … true. But what I learned later in life, too late, is that when you have power over another person, asking them to look at your dick isn’t a question. It’s a predicament for them.”

    Some might argue C.K.’s approach forgoes the most critical part of consent: waiting for a response. Still others might assert that without getting a “yes” or a “no” back, there’s no point in asking at all. Viewed that way, C.K.’s logic is baffling at best, and it’s both miraculous and frightening that he somehow got to the age of 50 believing the world works like this.

    More frightening still, scattered segments from C.K.’s TV show and various stand-up specials in which the comedian acknowledges viewing masturbation as a form of control or tool of revenge suggest that he did indeed know the effect his behavior had on others — and simply didn’t care.

    3. The closet made me do it. Also, I was drunk.

    Ah, alcohol. Absolver of all responsibility. Whether knocking over a glass vase, texting your roommates at 4 a.m., or sexually assaulting teenagers, some men apparently believe that acknowledging that you were blasted when it happened is a one-way express ticket to Forgiveness Town. That reportedly includes Kevin Spacey, who actor Anthony Rapp says drunkenly attempted to force himself on him when Rapp was 14.

    “If I did behave then as he describes, I owe him the sincerest apology for what would have been deeply inappropriate drunken behavior, and I am sorry for the feelings he describes having carried with him all these years,” Spacey wrote in a statement responding contritely to the alleged incident. Since the story of Rapp’s accusation broke, over a dozen more accusers have come forward.

    Kevin Spacey. Photo by Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images.

    To make matters worse for everyone but himself, Spacey used the space of his response to come out as a gay man — all but implying a connection between his alleged predation and his closeted sexuality. It reads as a desperate attempt to buy a modicum of sympathy at the cost of casting suspicion on millions of innocent LGBTQ Americans.

    4. It’s just what guys do.

    Donald Trump’s now-infamous comments about sexually assaulting women — “Grab ’em by the pussy” and “I moved on her like a bitch” — have largely disappeared down the memory hole, thanks to the steadily strengthening storm of scandals swirling around the now-president. Still, it’s tough to forget how the former reality show host became president in the first place: by managing to convince a depressing percentage of Americans that his unscripted admission was just a case of “boys being boys.”

    “This was locker-room banter, a private conversation that took place many years ago,” Trump said in a statement following the revelations.

    Was it, though? On one hand, you’ve got the producers of “Access Hollywood,” who fired Billy Bush for merely participating in that very discussion; dozens professional athletes asserting that, no, that’s not at all what locker rooms are like; not to mention the dozens of women who have come forward and accused Trump of doing pretty much exactly what he described. On the other hand, you have the word of Donald Trump, a dude who lies constantly.

    Tough call, I guess.  

    5. I knew it was wrong, but no one complained, so how wrong could it have been?

    “Toward the end of my time at ABC News, I recognized I had a problem,” journalist Mark Halperin said in a statement responding to allegations he had sexually harassed multiple women during his tenure at the network. “No one had sued me, no one had filed a human resources complaint against me, no colleague had confronted me. But I didn’t need a call from HR to know that I was a selfish, immature person who was behaving in a manner that had to stop.”

    Of course, Halperin “knew” that what he was doing was wrong in the same way that his victims likely “knew” that going to human resources to complain about their boss would get them sidelined, fired, or branded as a troublemaker. That power imbalance allows Halperin to attempt to have it both ways: pretending to take full responsibility of the allegations while slyly implying that the women he harassed share the blame for not speaking up sooner or louder.

    6. I’m too old and infirm to be a threat, and it was a joke anyway.

    George H.W. Bush. Photo by David J. Phillip – Pool/Getty Images.

    After multiple women came forward to accuse former President George H.W. Bush of groping them while posing for photos, the elder statesman did something few accused predators have the integrity to do: He admitted it.

    Still, as drafted by his spokesperson, his statement-slash-confession seemed to carry more than a whiff of an implication that his victims were needlessly slandering a harmless, disabled, old American hero:

    “To try to put people at ease, the president routinely tells the same joke — and on occasion, he has patted women’s rears in what he intended to be a good-natured manner.”

    And while it’s true that Bush is in his 90s and his arms aren’t as flexible as they used to be, a pat is different than a squeeze — and if someone squeezes your ass, you know. Not to mention, this explanation would appear to be contradicted by new reports that a less old and less infirm Bush was, apparently, no less inclined to grope the women (and girls, in some cases) standing next to him in photos.

    7. I made them stars, and this is how they repay me?!

    For some serial abusers, getting a woman her dream job apparently means assuming sexual ownership over her forever and always in exchange. Consider Roger Ailes, who reportedly made a series of unwelcome overtures to former Fox News anchor Megyn Kelly, even repeatedly attempting to kiss her in his office. The excuse he gave, framed as a furious denial, attempts to marshal other, generous actions as evidence to why he couldn’t or wouldn’t have engaged in misconduct.

    “I worked tirelessly to promote and advance [Megyn Kelly’s] career, as Megyn herself admitted to Charlie Rose. Watch that interview and then decide for yourself,” Ailes said. As is commonly the case, Kelly wasn’t close to alone in her accusations among the women hired by Ailes. Since former Fox anchor Gretchen Carlson launched her lawsuit against her ex-boss, more than 20 women have come forward with similar allegations.

    For others, that imagined control extends to merely pretending to get women jobs. That was, allegedly, the longtime MO of director James Toback, who is accused of inviting over 200 women to professional meetings only to proposition and, occasionally, assault them once in private. Toback put his denial even more aggressively:

    “The idea that I would offer a part to anyone for any other reason than that he or she was gonna be the best of anyone I could find is so disgusting to me. And anyone who says it is a lying c*cksucker or c*nt or both.”

    8. I’m trying to be a good guy now, and I respect the hell out of women, so let’s just wipe the slate clean.

    A popular excuse, especially among various left-of-center men of Hollywood and the media, mixes a nod to contrition with a subtle appeal to tribal loyalty: “I may have been a jerk once,” the argument goes, “But I’m on the right side of the issues that you care about.”

    Here’s Casey Affleck’s response, who reportedly harassed multiple women on the set of “I’m Still Here”:  

    “There’s really nothing I can do about [the allegations] other than live my life the way I know I live it and to speak to what my own values are and how I try to live by them all the time.”

    Casey Affleck. Photo by Leon Bennett/Getty Images.

    And here’s what Dustin Hoffman had to say after he was accused of making inappropriate and lewd comments to a production assistant during “Death of a Salesman”:

    “I have the utmost respect for women and feel terrible that anything I might have done could have put her in an uncomfortable situation. I am sorry. It is not reflective of who I am.”

    And here are Leon Weiseltier’s words, who allegedly harassed multiple women of a series of years as editor-in-chief of The New Republic:

    “The women with whom I worked are smart and good people. I am ashamed to know that I made any of them feel demeaned and disrespected. I assure them that I will not waste this reckoning.”

    Whether that “reckoning” ever comes is often irrelevant to the alleged abuser. What matters is that enough people believe he’s an asset to whatever fight they’re fighting, leaving open the possibility that he’ll be rehabilitated by his community without having to lift a finger.

    9. This is a political ploy by my enemies to ruin me.

    Bill O’Reilly. Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images.

    When in doubt, blame those bastards in the opposition party for trying to tear you down.

    “If you look at the totality, this was a hit job — a political and financial hit job,” argued Bill O’Reilly, after reports surfaced that he settled an unknown sexual harassment claim for $32 million in addition to allegations that he harassed or abused a string of coworkers during his decade-plus at Fox News.

    As a naked appeal to tribal loyalty, it’s a nefarious tactic but potentially a good deal more effective than, say, trying to shame your accusers by sharing the thank you notes they wrote you for some unrelated thing or outright blaming God — two things O’Reilly for real tried to do in the wake of allegations against him.

    10. This is a political ploy by the media to get clicks and sell papers.

    When in even more doubt, blame the fake news for whipping up people’s anger and impairing their “objectivity.”  

    “Brett Ratner vehemently denies the outrageous derogatory allegations that have been reported about him, and we are confident that his name will be cleared once the current media frenzy dies down and people can objectively evaluate the nature of these claims,” said the director’s spokesperson in a statement responding to allegations that Ratner had engaged in sexual misconduct on set.

    Despite Ratner’s denial, actor Ellen Page followed up days later with a blistering Facebook post, accusing the director of outing her against her will with an unwelcome, sexually tinged comment. Ratner as of yet hasn’t respond to her claim, unmediated by the media such as it was.

    11. It was the Russians!

    George Takei. Photo by Michael Loccisano/Getty Images.

    When in the most doubt, blame Vladimir Putin. As if the allegations against George Takei (which eerily paralleled a story Takei himself told Howard Stern several weeks earlier) weren’t upsetting enough, especially given Takei’s history of speaking out about the serious issue of sexual harassment, his response could not have been more bizarre:

    “A friend sent me this. It is a chart of what Russian bots have been doing to amplify stories containing the allegations against me,” Takei wrote, after allegations that he had groped a fellow actor without his consent surfaced. “It’s clear they want to cow me into silence, but do not fear friends. I won’t succumb to that.”

    12. But what about all the men who are falsely accused?

    Of course, not all of those accused of harassment or abuse are guilty, though recent studies peg the incidence of false reports at between a mere 2% to 8%. But while the guilty category is larger by leaps and bounds, that inkling of doubt too often allows alleged harassers and predators to weasel their way into the former.

    “No one wants to discourage abuse victims from speaking out, but one must bear in mind that sometimes there are people who are falsely accused and that is also a terribly destructive thing,” Woody Allen wrote in The New York Times after his daughter, Dylan Farrow, accused him of sexually assaulting her in the pages of the same paper a week earlier.

    When reached for comment on the on the Harvey Weinstein allegations, Allen told the BBC he wished to avoid “a witch-hunt atmosphere” where “every guy in an office who winks at a woman is suddenly having to call a lawyer to defend himself.” It’s a frame that conflates workplace flirting (potentially harassing behavior in its own right) with Weinstein’s alleged pattern of coercion and assault or, perhaps, his own by association.

    13. No comment, through a lawyer.

    Rather than offer an excuse, which can be its own form of admission, some alleged abusers simply choose to say nothing and hope the accusation goes away. That’s what Bill Clinton did in response to claims that he raped then-nursing home operator Juanita Brodderick in a hotel after luring her there with the promise of a professional meeting. First, Clinton’s attorney called the allegations “absolutely false.” Later, Clinton himself doubled down.

    “My counsel has made a statement about the … issue, and I have nothing to add to it,” the then-president told the Washington Post.

    14. I’m a sick man.

    Anthony Weiner. Photo by Spencer Platt/Getty Images.

    Of course, when the allegations become impossible to deny, some abusers see no option beyond making a full-throated, self-abasing confession. Anthony Weiner did this after pleading guilty to “transferring obscene material to a minor.”

    “This fall, I came to grips for the first time with the depths of my sickness. I had hit bottom,” he said in court. “I entered intensive treatment, found the courage to take a moral inventory of my defects, and began a program of recovery and mental health treatment that I continue to follow every day.”

    “I accept full responsibility for my conduct,” he continued. “I have a sickness, but I do not have an excuse. I apologize to everyone I have hurt. I apologize to the teenage girl, whom I mistreated so badly. I am committed to making amends to all those I have harmed. Thank you.”

    Weiner certainly isn’t the first prominent accused predator to claim to be broken. Harvey Weinstein checked himself into rehab for sex addiction after allegations against him surfaced. Kevin Spacey did the same some weeks later. Weiner himself previously had done a stint at rehab. But while Weiner’s statement completely acknowledges the scope of his wrongdoing, it nonetheless contains an excuse. In some way, it implies that the former congressman’s sickness mitigates the harm his actions caused or, at the very least, absolves him of some of the blame.

    It’s evidence that even the best, most clinical excuse is substandard at best.

    Which is why the most reasonable excuse might just be:

    15. I have no excuse.

    On Nov. 1, former NPR news chief Michael Oreskes stepped down in the wake of allegations that he had harassed multiple women on the job. His acknowledgement was direct and, notably, didn’t offer an explanation for his behavior.

    “I am deeply sorry to the people I hurt. My behavior was wrong and inexcusable, and I accept full responsibility.”

    Apologizing unconditionally doesn’t make it all better. It doesn’t restore the careers of the women Oreskes’ behavior likely sidelined, marginalized, or ended. And it doesn’t provide a quicker, smoother path to forgiveness. Doing so merely acknowledges what should by now be obvious.

    When it comes to harassing or abusing the people who work for you, depend on you, admire you, or simply those who are around you, there is no excuse.

    Read more: http://www.upworthy.com/lets-break-down-15-terrible-excuses-from-accused-sexual-harassers-and-predators

    Should the Upper Middle Class Take the Biggest Tax Hit?

    Humans learn the concept of fairness at a very young age. After all, it doesn’t take long for a child to start whining about a sibling who gets an extra serving of ice cream. As the Republican-controlled Congress tries to push through tax reform this year, one group of Americans may similarly question why it’s coming up a scoop short.

    The upper middle class gets relatively few benefits and a disproportionate number of tax hikes under the $1.4-trillion Tax Cuts and Jobs Act approved by the U.S. House of Representatives last week. Families earning between $150,000 and $308,000—the 80th to 95th percentile—would still get a tax cut on average. But by 2027, more than a third of those affluent Americans can expect a tax increase, according to the Tax Policy Center.

    If the House bill becomes law, overall benefits for the upper middle class will start out small, and later vanish almost entirely.

    Is this fair? Some argue it’s only right for the upper middle class to carry a heavier burden. This is because the top fifth of the U.S. by income has done pretty well over the past three decades while the wages and wealth of typical workers have stagnated. People in the 81st to 99th percentiles by income have boosted their inflation-adjusted pre-tax cash flow by 65 percent between 1979 and 2013, according to the Congressional Budget Office. That’s more than twice as much as the income rise seen by the middle 60 percent. (The top 1 percent, meanwhile, saw their income rise by 186 percent over the same period, but that’s another story.)

    “Many upper-middle-class families will tell you they do not feel wealthy,” said Brian Riedl, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, a right-leaning think tank. “Their standard of living [is] closer to the middle class than to the top 1 percent.” The income numbers don’t tell the whole story, he explained. The upper middle class is weighed down by high costs: Affluent workers live in expensive areas, pay a lot for real estate and daycare, and are taxed far more than Americans further down the ladder.

    Richard Reeves, a senior fellow at the left-leaning Brookings Institution, isn’t buying that argument. He’s the author of “Dream Hoarders: How the American Upper Middle Class Is Leaving Everyone Else in the Dust, Why That Is a Problem, and What to Do About It.”

    “There’s a culture of entitlement at the top of U.S. society,” Reeves said. While others focus on rising wealth of the top 1 percent, Reeves argues that the gap is widening between the top 20 percent and everyone else. The upper middle class is guilty of “hoarding” its privileges, using its power to skew the job market, educational institutions, real estate markets, and tax policy for its own benefit, he contends.

    “The American upper middle class know how to take care of themselves,” Reeves said during a presentation at the City University of New York last week. “They know how to organize. They’re numerous enough to be a serious voting bloc, and they run everything.”

    So by his measure, the tax legislation’s disproportionate hit to the upper middle class is indeed fair.

    A family earning $240,000 a year is bringing in four times the U.S. median household income of $59,000, according to the U.S. Census Bureau. All that money, along with the upper middle class’s political power, buys some huge advantages, Reeves said. For example, affluent parents compete for access to the best schools, bidding up home values in the best school districts. Then, they use zoning rules to prevent new construction, keep property values high, and prevent lower-income Americans from moving in. In the process, children of this demographic end up at the most prestigious universities, nab the best internships and jobs, and ultimately join their parents at the top of U.S. society. 

    The very existence of the House tax bill rebuts Reeves’s argument that the upper middle class is in a position to manipulate Washington. (The Senate is considering its own tax legislation, which differs from the House bill in several ways.) Compared with middle class Americans, the upper middle class is less likely to see marginal tax rates fall under the House legislation. The bill also limits or scraps entirely some of the group’s favorite tax breaks, especially deductions for state-and-local taxes, and medical expenses, and tax breaks for education.

    If you’re part of the upper middle class and concede you should be paying more, don’t count on wealthier groups making the same sacrifice—at least under the House bill. 

    While a repeal of the alternative-minimum tax helps some people with incomes below $300,000, it’s more likely to benefit those on the higher wealth rungs. The very rich, including President Donald Trump, who has been pressing for a legislative victory before the end of his first year in office, would benefit from a repeal of the estate tax, lower corporate tax rates and a lower “pass-through” rate on business income. The House bill explicitly tries to limit the pass-through benefit for doctors, lawyers, accountants, and other high-earning professionals—traditional denizens of the upper middle class. 

    This all may seem terribly unfair to members of the upper middle class, but there are some provisions they can take solace in. The bill leaves untouched some sweet tax breaks that predominately benefit people with lower six-figure salaries, such as 529 college savings plans and 401(k)s and other retirement perks. The CBO calculates that two-thirds of the government’s costs for retirement tax breaks go to the top 20 percent.

    But beyond these few exceptions, much of the upper middle class will still take it on the chin.

    And maybe they should. Higher taxes on the upper middle class make sense to some liberal tax experts—but only if the proceeds are used the right way, they said, for things like better health care, more affordable college, and rebuilding infrastructure. Under the House bill, though, any new tax revenue is used to offset tax cuts—much of which will benefit the super wealthy and corporations, especially over time.

    “There would be a lot of people in the country who would be willing to chip in for those goals,” said Carl Davis, research director of the left-leaning Institute on Taxation and Economic Policy. In the House plan, however, the upper middle class is “going to pay more for a bill that’s going to grow the national debt, and provide the lion’s share of the benefits to corporations and their shareholders.”

    Riedl, who has advised Republican candidates, argues the upper middle class should get a more generous tax cut under GOP tax reform. “It’s hard to argue the upper middle class is not currently paying its fair share,” he said. Reeves said the U.S. should ultimately tax the upper middle class more—but “the top 5 percent more still.”

    Looking at Republican tax plans, Reeves said, “it’s like they only read half my book.”

      Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-20/should-the-upper-middle-class-take-the-biggest-tax-hit

      Stillbirth link to sleeping on your back

      Image copyright Science Photo Library

      Women are being advised to sleep on their side in the last three months of pregnancy to help prevent stillbirth.

      A study of just over 1,000 women found the risk doubles if women go to sleep on their backs in the third trimester.

      The study looked into 291 pregnancies that ended in stillbirth and 735 women who had a live birth.

      Researchers say the position which women fall asleep in is most important – and they should not worry if they are on their back when they wake up.

      About one in 225 pregnancies in the UK ends in stillbirth and the study authors estimate that about 130 babies’ lives a year could be saved if women went to sleep on their side.

      The MiNESS study, published in the British Journal of Obstetrics and Gynaecology (BJOG) is the biggest of its kind, and confirms findings from smaller studies in New Zealand and Australia.

      Is waking up on your back a problem?

      Prof Alexander Heazell, clinical director at the Tommy’s Stillbirth Research Centre at St Mary’s Hospital in Manchester, who led the research, advises women in their third trimester to sleep on their side for any episode of sleep, including daytime naps.

      “What I don’t want is for women to wake up flat on their back and think ‘oh my goodness I’ve done something awful to my baby’.

      “The question that we asked was very specifically what position people went to sleep in and that’s important as you spend longer in that position than you do in any other.

      “And also you can’t do anything about the position that you wake up in but you can do something about the position you go to sleep.”

      Tips for going to sleep on your side

      • Put a pillow or pillows behind your back to encourage side-sleeping
      • If you wake during the night, check your position and go back to sleep on your side
      • Pay the same attention to sleep position during the day as you would during the night
      • If you wake on your back during the night, don’t worry, just roll on to your side
      • The study didn’t find a difference in risk between right or left side

      Source: Tommy’s charity

      Researchers can’t say for certain why the risk of stillbirth is increased – but there is a lot of data that suggests when a woman is lying on her back, the combined weight of the baby and womb puts pressure on blood vessels which can then restrict blood flow and oxygen to the baby.

      Edward Morris, from the BJOG, said the new research was “extremely welcome” .

      “This is an important study which adds to the growing body of evidence that sleep position in late pregnancy is a modifiable risk factor for stillbirth.”

      The pregnancy charity Tommy’s has started a campaign to raise awareness of the study and to encourage women to sleep on their side.

      Image copyright Family photo
      Image caption Michelle Cottle is 36 and lives in London – she is a clinical psychologist and writes an award-winning blog Dear Orla

      Michelle Cottle’s baby Orla was stillborn at 37 weeks in 2016 after a healthy pregnancy where there were no signs that anything was wrong.

      She writes a blog “Dear Orla” and hears from women who have been through the same experience.

      Michelle, whose daughter Esme was born a year later, says practical advice like this for mothers is important to make them feel more in control.

      “I really think it helps to empower people, as it feels like something you can go away and do with the hope of having a more healthy pregnancy and a better outcome than sadly lots of people do have.

      “I look back now and I actually feel quite traumatised by my (second) pregnancy because it was a bit like living your worst nightmare every single day.

      “Every time there’s maybe a quiet moment and you don’t know whether your baby is alive or not is absolutely terrifying.

      “Night-time is the worst as well because a lot of people would say they believe that their baby died maybe when they were sleeping. I think that’s really scary because you have to sleep.

      “So I think having clear things that can help you feel a bit more in control is really important for women.”

      Related Topics

      Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-42025835

      Sephora Hit With Lawsuit After Woman Claims She Got Herpes From One Of Their Testers!

      Let this be a warning to shoppers!

      A California woman is suing Sephora after she says she contracted herpes from using one of their lipstick tester samples in 2015, this according to

      The unnamed woman is suing for emotional distress from her “incurable lifelong affliction.”

      Sephora hasn’t commented on the lawsuit, although a spokesperson did share a statement with Fashionista:

      “While it is our policy not to comment on litigation, the health and safety of our clients is our foremost priority. We take product hygiene very seriously and we are dedicated to following best practices in our stores.”

      Yikes!

      May this be a reminder to stay away from the communal testers…

      Read more: http://perezhilton.com/cocoperez/2017-10-31-sephora-herpes-scandal-tester-lawsuit-california

      GE’s $100 Billion Wipeout Heralds Reckoning for an American Icon

      Few under the age of 30 might remember, but General Electric Co. was once a model of corporate greatness.

      Back in 1999, when Steve Jobs was still fiddling with iMacs, Fortune magazine proclaimed Jack Welch, then GE’s chief executive officer, the best manager of the 20th Century.

      Few people — of whatever age — would lavish such praise on the manufacturer these days.

      GE, that paragon of modern management, has fallen so far that it’s scarcely recognizable. The old GE is dead, undone by an unfortunate mix of missteps and bad luck. The new one now confronts some of the most daunting challenges in the company’s 125-year history.

      The numbers tell the story: This year alone, roughly $100 billion has been wiped off GE’s stock market value. With mounting cash-flow problems at the once-mighty company, even the dividend is at risk of being cut. The last time GE chopped the payout was in the Great Recession — and before that, the Great Depression.

      Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on GE dividend

      And yet the hit to the collective psyche of generations of investors and managers is incalculable. For decades, GE-think infiltrated boardrooms around the world. Six Sigma quality control, strict performance metrics, management boot camps — all that and more informed the MBAs of the 1970s, ’80s, ’90s and into this century. GE, in turn, seeded corporate America with its executives.

      Anxious Investors

      Now, John Flannery, GE’s new CEO, is struggling to win back the trust of anxious investors. He’s set to detail his turnaround plans on Monday — and has said he’ll consider every option.

      “There’s nothing less than the fate of a once great, great company on the line,” said Thomas O’Boyle, the author of “At Any Cost: Jack Welch, General Electric, and the Pursuit of Profit.” “Some of the fundamental notions about its status as a conglomerate and whether it can succeed in a world of increasing complexity are really being challenged right now.”

      In hindsight, the seeds of this struggle were planted decades ago. Welch expanded and reshaped GE with hundreds of acquisitions and demanded every GE unit be No. 1 or No. 2 in its industry. He also culled low-performers ruthlessly, earning the nickname Neutron Jack. By the time he retired, in 2001, GE’s market value had soared from less than $20 billion to almost $400 billion.

      But all that maneuvering, plus GE’s increasingly complex financial operations, obscured the underlying performance and put the company in peril during the 2008 financial crisis. Welch’s successor, Jeffrey Immelt, soon embarked on a plan to undo much of the House that Jack Built. He would sell NBC and most of the finance operations — two of the businesses that defined Welch’s tenure — along with units such as plastics and home-appliances.

      The moves narrowed GE’s focus, yet it remains a collection of somewhat disparate manufacturing businesses, ranging from jet engines to oilfield equipment.

      Out of Favor

      Unfortunately for GE, that industrial conglomerate model has fallen sharply out of favor on Wall Street. And the rise of activist investors like Nelson Peltz has encouraged companies to try to boost their stock prices however they can, rather than focus on the long term. GE recently welcomed one of Peltz’s partners at Trian Fund Management to the board.

      “The reckoning had to come,” said Jack De Gan, chief investment officer of Harbor Advisory, which has been a GE shareholder for more than 20 years before selling most of the shares in the past few weeks.

      GE’s leaders have long defended the multi-business strategy by pointing to the benefits of sharing technology across product lines — jet engines, for instance, have a lot in common with gas turbines. In an interview with Bloomberg in June, Flannery dismissed concerns about conglomerates, saying investors care more about outcomes.

      “They want growth, they want visibility, they want predictability, they want margin rate,” Flannery said. “And there are a multitude of models to produce that.”

      $20 Billion

      The new CEO has already said he’ll divest at least $20 billion of assets. He’s coming under pressure to do even more.

      “Anything less than a sweeping plan to ‘de-conglomerate’ the portfolio would be viewed as disappointing,” Deane Dray, an analyst with RBC Capital Markets, said this week in a note to clients. The potential moves include unloading its transportation, oil, health-care and lighting operations.

      Read more: Bloomberg Gadfly on a GE Breakup

      To be sure, GE’s issues run deeper than the composition of the company. One of its biggest divisions, power-generation, is in the early stages of a deep market slump — just two years after bulking up with the $10 billion acquisition of Alstom SA’s energy business. GE’s cash flow is light, potentially putting the dividend in jeopardy and driving investors away from the stock.

      Flannery has spoken of the need to change GE’s culture and instill a sense of accountability. He’s reined in excessive spending — on corporate cars and planes, on the new Boston headquarters — and replaced top executives.

      But the sudden changes, combined with Flannery’s relative lack of public reassurances, have spooked investors. In the days after Flannery’s first quarterly earnings as CEO, when he called GE’s performance “completely unacceptable,” the stock fell and fell. And fell some more, closing at the lowest level in five years on Nov. 2.

      The shares slid less than 1 percent to $19.99 on Thursday, bringing the 2017 loss to 37 percent.

      “You think about a company like Kodak. Will GE become that?” said Vijay Govindarajan, a professor at Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business who served as GE’s professor-in-residence in 2008 and 2009.

      Some investors may be throwing in the towel, but Govindarajan isn’t giving up. “I will put my bet that GE will weather this and come back,” he said.

        Read more: http://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-11-10/ge-s-100-billion-wipeout-heralds-reckoning-for-an-american-icon

        4,000-Year-Old Artifacts Reveal Locations Of The 11 Lost Cities Of Assyria

        It was recently reported, to the delight of many, that a 4,000-year-old Assyrian baked clay tablet was likely a marriage contract. This, however, isn’t the only tablet of its kind – there are tens of thousands of others.

        Now, as revealed in a new working paper, a careful translation of many of them has revealed something utterly remarkable: The locations of ancient metropolises that have been long lost to the sands of time.

        Authored by Harvard University’s senior lecturer on Assyriology, Gojko Barjamovic, and an international team of economists, it has the potential to change how the Assyrian Empire is understood.

        These tablets have all been excavated from the ancient city of Kanesh, located in modern-day Turkey. Written in the cuneiform script developed by the Sumerians of Mesopotamia, they are a mishmash of business transactions, accounts, seals, contracts, and so on – yes, even marriage certificates.

        The tablets sound rather uninteresting to the layperson, but not to those with a trained eye. Business dealings always mention where they are taking place and perhaps where the trade is heading to or being received from. This means that the names and potentially the locations of cities that have yet to be found, those still buried beneath the Turkish soil, could be found within the texts.

        After painstakingly going through 12,000 of these clay tablets, the team think that they’ve identified 26 of them; 15 have been found already, but 11 of them still elude capture.

        The precise coordinates of the cities aren’t given though, but thanks to a now-defunct method of trading, the team think they know where most of them are regardless.

        A bas relief from the palace of Nimrud. Andrea Izzotti/Shutterstock

        Kanesh, once a small trading settlement, became a major trading post for the entire region. The tablets are so detailed that the authors describe the city in their paper as a “flourishing market economy, based on free enterprise and private initiative, profit-seeking and risk-taking merchants, backed by elaborate financial contracts and a well-functioning judicial system.”

        It’s this comprehensive record of accounts that revealed that Kanesh traded most with cities closer to it and less with those further away. Taking all this data and properly quantifying it, the team managed to essentially create a system of distance based on the frequency of trade between cities.

        This system, which they call a “structural gravity model”, gives robust estimates as to where these lost cities might be. They note that for many of them, their approximations “come remarkably close to the qualitative conjectures produced by historians.”

        Although they need to be found to confirm the accuracy of their system, this paper provides a remarkable tool for archaeologists. It’s a gateway to a kingdom that, for all intents and purposes, was the world’s first superpower.

        [H/T: Washington Post]

        Read more: http://www.iflscience.com/editors-blog/4000yearold-artifacts-reveal-locations-of-the-11-lost-cities-of-assyria/