Pence to visit Israel, Egypt in December

Vice President Mike Pence announced Wednesday that he will travel to Israel and Egypt in late December, and said the U.S. will redirect funds aimed at helping persecuted Christians and other minorities away from the United Nations.

Pence discussed his plans at a religious dinner in Washington, where he stressed the Trump administration’s commitment to helping Christian minority groups across the Middle East.

“President Trump has directed me to go to the Middle East in late December,” Pence said in a keynote speech delivered at In Defense of Christians’ annual solidarity dinner for Christians in the Middle East. He promised that, “one of the messages that I will bring on the president’s behalf to leaders across the region is that now is the time to bring an end to the persecution of Christians and all religious minorities.”

Pence also announced Wednesday that President Donald Trump had directed his State Department to pull U.S. funding from “ineffective” United Nations programs aimed at addressing persecuted and displaced religious minority communities, and redirect that money to programs run by the United States Agency for International Development, as well as faith-based groups and private organizations.

Pence complained that Christians and other persecuted people in the Middle East have not been getting the relief they need, and accused the U.N. of having “too often failed to help the most vulnerable communities, especially religious minorities. “

“From this day forward, America will provide support directly to persecuted communities through USAID,” said Pence. “Our fellow Christians and all who are persecuted in the Middle East should not have to rely on multinational institutions when America can help them directly.”

The State Department did not comment late Wednesday. The U.S. Mission to the United Nations referred all questions about the matter to the White House, which did not immediately respond to a request for comment about exactly which programs would be affected and how much money was at stake.

The Trump administration announced in April that it would be cutting off U.S. funding to the U.N. agency for reproductive health, accusing the agency of supporting population control programs in China that include coercive abortion. That decision cost the U.N. fund $32.5 million from the 2017 budget, the State Department said at the time.

In his remarks, Pence bemoaned an “unprecedented assault” on Christianity “in those ancient lands where it first grew,” pointing to incidents like the Palm Sunday church bombings targeting Coptic Christians in Egypt and attacks on Christian communities in Syria.

He also pledged that, as the Islamic State group is evicted from its strongholds in the Middle East, the president was committed to helping persecuted minority groups “reclaim their lands, return to their homes, rebuild their lives, and replant the roots in their ancient place of birth.”

The vice president’s trip is expected to take him to Israel during Hanukkah, where he’ll discuss the prospects for a Middle East peace agreement in separate meetings with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas. Pence is also expected to address U.S. policy toward Iran and highlight Israel’s space program — a favorite issue.

Pence is scheduled to meet with Egyptian President Abdel-Fattah el-Sissi and highlight U.S.-Egypt cooperation on security issues. He’ll also meet with government and religious leaders to discuss combating the persecution of religious minorities, including Christians, in the broader Middle East.

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Teen’s sore throat spirals into life-threatening infection

A complaint about a sore throat has turned into a health nightmare for one Rhode Island teen, who is now reportedly facing partial amputation of her right leg. Gianna Cirella, a junior goalkeeper for the Toll Gate High School soccer team, is currently fighting for her life at Hasbro Children’s Hospital in Providence.

Cirella first complained of a sore throat while at practice on Oct. 13, and within 72 hours was diagnosed with pneumonia which then progressed to sepsis, The Providence Journal reported. According to a GoFundMe page set up on the family’s behalf, the infection cut off oxygen and blood supply to part of her right leg, which will now be amputated.


“I couldn’t believe what I was hearing,” Lonna Razza, Cirella’s coach, told The Providence Journal. “It was shocking – absolutely shocking – that it came on so quickly.”

Cirella’s younger sister is a striker on the team, and her teammates have been taking shifts visiting at the hospital. Grief counselors have been made available to players, and the team decided to play against a cross-town rival in her honor. Cirella’s sister scored a goal during that game.

“Of all nights, this was the night she scored that goal,” Razza told The Providence Journal. “And it was for her sister. We all felt it. We all knew it.”

Cirella’s teammates have taken to wearing purple ribbons and armbands, and helped organize a blood drive as well as spread the word about the family’s GoFundMe page. 

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6 Ways Being A Kid In The Past Was A Complete Nightmare

Thanks to time and progress, we’ve been able to shoot down a lot of the bad science that plagued the past. No more thinking the Earth is flat, believing women come from ribs, or burning witches at the stake for figuring out lifehacks against headaches. Yet nowhere has progress had a greater impact than on how we deal with our children. Back in the day, there were plenty of utterly insane parenting styles which would land people in jail now. Here are some of the most ridiculous ways we used to screw up parenthood. You’ll be amazed we were able to keep progressing the species.


Victorians Would Camouflage Themselves As Creepy Furniture On Photo Day

In the days of yore, picture day wasn’t only an excuse to skip out on class and make rude gestures at some underpaid photographer. It was serious business. Taking a photo was so expensive and time-consuming that having some fidgety kid ruin it could mean double shifts down in the mines and a single portion of gruel for the whole family. In fact, 19th-century parents would go to insane lengths to make sure their children sat precisely how they wanted them to.

In the olden days, having one’s picture taken was quite a grueling affair. Exposure could take a long time to set in, up to 15 whole minutes. That’s a quarter of an hour of sitting perfectly still so that you don’t look like a blurry ghost haunting a nice fainting chair. This made taking pictures of small children almost impossible, as they tend to have the vigor and willpower of a hyperactive ferret. So the question became how to restrain one’s child with a firm hand without having that firm hand pop up in the picture and ruining it. The answer was this:

via The Guardian
Not the infant dress cut for someone six feet tall.

As your keen Holmesian eyes may have gathered, that chair looks a little … people-shaped, doesn’t it? That’s right, a mother would disguise herself into the background of the photograph like the world’s most overambitious spy, keeping her toddler in check and probably giving her child some real Freudian hang-ups about upholstery.

This phenomenon, known as the “invisible mothers,” was de rigeur back in the day if you wanted a photograph of your child to cherish, albeit one in which it looks like they’re being suffocated by the Grim Reaper’s old-fashioned aunt, Maude Reaper.


19th-Century Parents Would Send Their Children Via The Postal Service

We often take for granted how easy it is to get places these days. Do your parents live across town? Jump in your affordable car. Grandparents on the other coast? Grab a seat on an affordable plane. Family in Alaska? Hell, they’re all but giving Husky sleds away these days. But back in the day, people couldn’t get around so easily, which was especially troublesome for young parents and their very immobile babies. But then, an unlikely government organization offered them a great alternative to traveling with kids, and all for the cost of a stamp.

One of the greatest innovations of the U.S. Post Office was the addition of parcels in 1913. No longer did people have to stuff books into envelopes and pretend they’d only written the world’s most convoluted letter. As long as your parcel was under 11 pounds, the Parcel Post would ship it. That was the Post Office’s big mistake. As it happens, a lot of babies weigh under 11 pounds, and there were plenty of cheapskate parents out in the sticks who would abuse the hell out of that loophole.

That was the story of James Beagle, an eight-month-old boy who was literally shipped off to his grandmother — who was thankfully only a few miles away. Still, his parents thought that paying 15 cents was a better deal than the wasted time and worn shoes they’d get walking him over. They did insure little James for $50, sending a clear message to the postmen of “You break him, you buy him.”

Perhaps amused by this gross neglect, parents across the country followed suit, and the brief trend was extensively documented in the newspapers. That is, until June 1913, when the postmaster general officially prohibited the sending of children through the mail system. It was a pain for parents, but an absolute godsend for the postmen who were tired of lugging around smelly babies. After all, they weren’t allowed to change their diapers — opening mail is a federal offense.


Medieval Parents Used To Mold Their Babies Using Swaddling

Naturally, parents want their children to turn out the best that they possibly can. Even the most carefree parents would prefer that their offspring be the first in their family to get a PhD, and not the first to get banned from several popular restaurant chains. So how do you tip the odds? By correcting behavior, encouraging ambition, and a whole lot of other pop psychology, for starters. In those and many other ways, parents have been molding their children since the beginning of time — except that they used to take that molding a bit too literally.

In Medieval England, there existed a medical theory that newborn babies had a malleable body type, like Play-Doh, which tended to curl into a ball-like shape. In order to prevent that, mothers would swaddle their babies in tight linen papooses as a way of stretching their spines and their limbs out, believing that this would result in a tall, normal-looking child — though we’re sure there were plenty of fathers who wanted to leave their kid unswaddled just to see what happened.

But if children are made out of putty, why stop at correcting bad posture? Medieval parents quickly figured that some extra manipulation would ensure long arms and legs, so they’d pull and hold their little babies’ limbs like they were tiny Stretch Armstrongs. And since being handsome is always a plus in life, they also routinely pinched and pulled and tweaked the nose and cheeks and ears and lips until the child hardened into a fine adult / clay ashtray.

Not only was the practice useless and painful for the child, but it was also bad for its development. Not changing the bonds daily (which no Medieval parent did) caused all kinds of sores. And in their rush to make sure that their children came out child-shaped, some mothers would also swaddle them too tightly and cause them to suffer from circulatory problems, chafing, and a heap of dermatological nightmares. Nothing some extra swaddling couldn’t buff out, though.


“Twilight Sleep” Was Pure Horror

Moms, what is the worst part of being a mom? Is it letting go on the first day of school? Is it the fear when they’re not home by curfew? Is it having to boil all your towels the moment those little masturbating monsters hit puberty? Wrong, the worst part of motherhood is the pain of squeezing a screaming melon from between your legs whilst everyone in the maternity room stares at your hooha. However, thanks to the miracle of modern medicine, there are many ways of dealing with the pain and discomfort. But what about your grandmother’s generation? Well, the good news is that they too had a chemical concoction which blocked out the pain of childbirth. The bad news? It kind of made mothers go insane.

In 1914, the three hottest trends in Europe were smoking opium, getting machine-gunned in a trench, and “a new and painless method of childbirth.” This new procedure, known as “twilight sleep,” was made possible through a mixture of morphine and scopolamine — the former for pain and the latter for memory. That’s right, the whole point was not only to endure the grueling burden of giving birth, but also to forget that the ghastly affair ever happened at all. Women would simply wake up the next day and some nurse would drop a baby into their arms, assuring them it had plopped out of them mere hours before.

Giving birth while you sleep sounds like a pretty sweet deal — except that it wasn’t, for any of the parties involved (except the doctors, naturally). There’s this little thing mothers need to do called bonding, which is tricky when you get introduced to your baby via a nurse like she’s trying to set you two up on a blind date. Twilight sleep mothers offered suffered from dissociation, wherein they couldn’t recognize their children, often leading to postnatal depression, delusions, and a whole host of psychological problems quickly passed on from one generation to the next.

And to make matters worse, after twilight sleep wards were set up across the U.S., it soon became apparent that the practice wasn’t even truly painless, either. As it turned out, all it really did was mind-wipe new mothers without making their birthing much less horrible. In fact, it did the exact opposite, removing their willpower to deal with the situation, often causing them to freak out. Every hospital that offered twilight sleep quickly turned into a haunted house, as its corridors were filled with the sound of soon-to-be-mothers screaming for their lives. And as the drug cocktail was so shit at numbing them out that these mothers were either strapped to their hospital beds using leather straps or were put into a straitjacket and forced to give birth in padded cells.

Naturally, as this became common knowledge (and some poor woman died), twilight sleep lost its popularity, vanishing completely by the middle of the 20th century. It’s a good thing it didn’t last until the days of dads taping the birth — otherwise it would have spontaneously invented the found footage horror genre.


Old-Timey Parenting Books Were Full Of Dangerous Nonsense

Having kids is hella hard. They’re the most complicated animals in the world to raise, but their operating manual is never included. That’s why, over the centuries, an entire industry has been built around informing new parents how to deal with their stinking, screaming bundles of joy. Ironically, these guides had some teething problems of their own.

During the 19th century, many guides for new mothers were published containing a lot of, to put it politely, fucking batshit crazy guesswork. Do you want a healthy baby? Better align their sleeping position due north so that they’re in sync with “great electrical currents … coursing in one direction around the globe.” That way, according to 1878’s The Physical Life Of Woman, those currents can synergize with your baby’s central nervous system and supercharge them to the max.

And you don’t want your babies to become ugly, right? Searchlights On Health: The Science Of Eugenics had an easy answer: Don’t think about uggos. A pregnant woman should banish all thoughts of the ugly “or those marked by any deformity or disease.” How do you not think of something just mentioned in what you’re reading? Good question. Also, if you’re a pregnant woman and you’re reading this, good luck with your hideous child.

Meanwhile, in the best-selling The Mother And Her Child, two doctors recommend you “handle the baby as little as possible.” If it (and they are definitely an “it” here) cries, you should let it happen. After all, crying is “absolutely essential to the development of good strong lungs.” You want your kids to have good strong lungs, don’t you? Well, let ’em weep … But not so much that they start to choke and burst the blood vessels in their face, in which case you should spank them for having the dishonor to nearly die in the midst of a life lesson.

And to make sure they don’t go soft after they’ve screamed themselves strong, you should also never, ever hug a child, and only kiss them once a day (maximum) before bedtime. Remember, parents, an emotionally dead child is an obedient child, so greet them in the morning with a firm and hearty handshake to let them know you respect and care for them in the same way you would an out-of-town business associate you haven’t seen in four years.


Better Healthcare Through Getting Kids Wasted

So you’ve tried everything. You tried binding their limbs, ignoring their cries, even beating them senseless, but none of that stellar parenting has done the trick. You’re still coming home to a sickly, unruly child who thinks of you as a malicious stranger out to ruin their life — but not in a good way. Well, have you tried pumping them full of opium?

If your kid was born before World War I, the answer was “Yes,” whether you knew it or not.

During the 1800s, drugging your children was the most socially responsible thing a parent could do. According to doctors, it cured every infant ailment, from fever to night terrors to full-scale tuberculosis. Opium was the most popular medication for the young and old alike, because it couldn’t be bad taking something that made you feel sooooo good. Medicine such as Stickney and Poor’s Pure Paregoric (a cold syrup) contained 46 percent alcohol and “one and three-sixteenth grains of opium to each fluid ounce” — a ratio you wouldn’t think to find outside of an Afghan warlord’s bathroom cabinet. And in case parents were a bit worried about, y’know, pumping their little ones with so much smack they’d start overdosing like they were in Trainspotting, the bottles came equipped with a handy-dandy chart listing the “correct” dose for everyone from adults all the way down to five-day-olds.

“If you see yourself crawling over the ceiling toward a Scottish smackhead, reduce your dosage.”

But what if your kids were the fussy types who didn’t like the bitter taste of uncut opium? Well, you could also buy opium cough drops flavored with the refreshing taste of cherry. Of course, having six-month-olds chase the dragon caused some mild addiction problems, but parents who are cool with pumping their babies full of class A narcotics are typically not parents who bother knowing the difference between overly fussy babies and babies showing hardcore signs of withdrawal.

Not that opium was the only way parents used to let kids live it up like they were on tour with Guns N’ Roses. During the gin craze of the mid-1700s, English parents let their offspring get sloshed on up to half a pint of cheap gin every day, we guess because they preferred the sound of loud sea shanties over crying. Of course, these were the days of child labor as well, so maybe it’s more a case of seven-year-olds, fresh from a shift down in the mines, stopping at their local for a quick pint before they had to get back to the ol’ mom and chain.

Adam Wears is on Twitter and Facebook. He also has a newsletter about depressing history, but that’s only for the coolest kids.

There are much better books about child care these days, but we’re not qualified to suggest any so don’t forget to introduce your kids to all things Dr. Suess. Also please don’t ever try to mail your baby.

If you loved this article and want more content like this, support our site with a visit to our Contribution Page.

Also check out 7 Things ‘Good Parents’ Do (That Screw Up Kids For Life) and 18 Terrible Parents That Hollywood Wants Us To Admire.

Subscribe to our YouTube channel, and check out Why Parents Who Over Share On Social Media Ruin Their Kids, and watch other videos you won’t see on the site!

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Catch a faceful of funny on Thursday, October 19 at The Cracked Stand Up Show, hosted by Alex Schmidt and featuring Soren Bowie, Eddie Della Siepe, Joel Samataro, Riley Silverman, and Barbara Gray. Get your tickets here.

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‘I lost my job because of my depression’

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Media captionJames Tringham, who has bipolar disorder, explains that being at work has a “normalising effect”

Hayley Smith says her manager encouraged her to apply for other jobs when she told her she had depression.

The news about her illness spread across the office. “It was horrible – I felt really exposed,” she says. After a few anxious, unhappy months, she left.

Hayley is one of up to 300,000 people with mental health problems who leave their jobs each year, a report says.

The report by mental health experts also says poor mental health costs the UK economy up to £99bn each year.

Paul Farmer, co-author of the Thriving At Work report, said mental health was a taboo subject in many workplaces.

Mr Farmer, who is chief executive of mental health charity Mind, said: “Opportunities are missed to prevent poor mental health and ensure that employees who may be struggling get the support they need.

“In many instances, employers simply don’t understand the crucial role they can play, or know where to go for advice and support.”

The review makes 40 recommendations for how to support employees to remain at work, including creating an online wellbeing portal and using digital technology to support workers in the gig economy.

Companies are also being encouraged to include a section on employee mental health in their annual reports. Currently only 11% of companies do this, the report said.

Prime Minister Theresa May, who commissioned the report, said it showed “we need to take action”. The civil service has agreed to take on the report’s recommendations.

Image copyright Hayley Smith
Image caption Hayley Smith lost her job when she told her employer about her depression

One employer the report praised is the insurer, Aviva.

James Tringham, who has worked for the company for seven years, said it helped him get his life back on track after suffering with bipolar disorder.

“In 2009, I’d reached crisis point with my mental health, and I gave up my career as a solicitor,” he says.

“I was unable to work for over a year – the prospect of returning to work was just so frightening and not something that I could imagine.”

Eventually he got a job in the insurer’s contact centre. “They gave me a way back into employment and I have worked my way back up.

“Aviva have been brilliant in supporting me to manage my mental health at work, and have given me my confidence back.

“There’s an understanding, which means little things like adjusting my workload when I’m feeling on the low side can really help. And the staff – both officially and unofficially – form a great support network.”

Image copyright Getty Images
Image caption Footballer Aaron Lennon returned to training after receiving mental health support

The review says employers should:

  • Create a mental health at work plan
  • Build mental health awareness by making information and support accessible
  • Encourage open conversations
  • Provide good working conditions and ensure employees have a healthy work-life balance
  • Promote effective people management, with line managers holding regular conversations about health and well-being with their staff
  • Routinely monitor employee mental health

The review said that people with long-term mental health problems were leaving jobs at twice the rate of colleagues with no such issues, although it did say that some people may be counted twice – if they left one job, returned to work elsewhere after a break but were then unable to continue in their new post.

The report also pointed out the cost to employers, estimating they were losing £42bn each year because of staff suffering from mental health problems.

Mrs May said: “It is only by making this an everyday concern for everyone that we change the way we see mental illness, so that striving to improve your mental health – whether at work or at home – is seen as just as positive as improving our physical well-being.”

What is mental health?

For Hayley Smith, support from her employer could have made her chronic depression more bearable.

After leaving her job, she started her own company. Five years on, she now employs others.

“In the long term, it’s given me awareness of mental health,” she says. “And the awareness to make sure I was never going to make people feel the way I was made to feel.”

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California Bans The Sale Of Dogs From Puppy Mills

A new law has been signed in California to ban pet stores from selling animals that come from puppy mills. It’s the first law of its kind in the US and ensures that pet stores work alongside shelters, rescue homes, and humane breeders if they want to sell animals.

Governor of California Jerry Brown announced last Friday that by January 1, 2019, anyone found selling dogs, cats, and rabbits from mills could face a fine up to $500.

There have been several horror stories about puppy mills in America. In fact, earlier this year it was reported that 105 dogs were rescued from an illegal kennel just outside Charlotte in North Carolina, where an unlicensed breeder named Patricia Yates had been breeding dogs for years. She was later charged with 12 counts of animal cruelty. Puppy mills like Yates’ have been described as “the secret shame of the pet industry”. 

Puppy mills have always been controversial due to the terrible conditions the animals are kept in, their lack of care for the animals’ health, and the irresponsible breeding that takes place within them. 

President and CEO of the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), Matt Bershadker, told Business Insider, “This landmark law breaks the puppy mill supply chain that pushes puppies into California pet stores and has allowed unscrupulous breeders to profit from abusive practices.”

“By signing this groundbreaking bill, California has set an important, humane precedent for other states to follow,” added Gregory Castle, CEO of Best Friends Animal Society. “We commend Governor Brown’s signing of this lifesaving legislation to codify statewide what cities across California have already done to help put an end to the cruelty of pet mills.”

Although some stores claim to only sell puppies from independent and licensed breeders, there are a large number of pet stores in the US still supplying customers with puppies, and even kittens, from mills.

Animals in these mills are usually kept in overcrowded conditions, with very little food and water. They can also suffer from serious problems, like mental instability or aggression, as a result of their traumatic early lives.



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Here’s The Gross Thing Every Parent Needs To Watch Out For This Halloween

Halloween is a scary time of year.

Everyone’s decorating with spooky decorations and getting ready to scare their neighbors with their costumes. It’s super exciting for children who get to dress up and have some of that sweet Halloween candy. While most parents are concerned about checking their kids’ candy for issues, there’s another health risk that comes around this time of year that every mom and dad should know about.

Doctors see a huge jump in head lice during this time of year. With people trying on wigs and costumes in the store, that makes sense.

After all, there’s no telling how many people have tried it on before you decide to take a costume home.

Putting costumes and wigs in an airtight plastic bag for 48 hours before wearing it is the easiest way to kill lice.

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Our 2011 Contest Winner Is Slaying On The Voice Right Now! Find Out Why Charlie Puth’s Duet Partner ‘Disappeared’ From The Industry For So Long

Way to go, Emily Luther!

In case you don’t remember, Emily — along with a pal you may have heard of named Charlie Puth — got their start with an amazing YouTube cover that won our 2011 Can YOU Sing?? contest.

Video: Puth Realizes He Shouldn’t Have Covered Katy Perry’s Bon Appétit Mid-Performance!

Now Emily is back on another singing competition: The Voice!

Ch-ch-check out her smoky blind audition of Summertime that the coaches were fighting to get their hands on (below):

There’s a lot of measures of silence between 2011 and 2017. So why did Emily walk away for so long?

In an interview with GoLocalProv last week, she explained:

“It’s good to encourage young women or young men to be themselves, to be true to themselves. I had to figure that out the hard way…

I disappeared from the music scene for quite some time, there was a lot of mental health issues that I was going through when I was dealing with the negativity of the music industry.”

What negativity? Well, she doesn’t want to get into specifics, but she did later add on her Instagram that there was a Harvey Weinstein predator situation involved:

“This whole Harvey Weinstein thing hits so close to home. The music industry has the same craziness, that I was lucky enough to walk away from. It is so important that we continue to educate young people on what is ok and NOT ok for any man (powerful or not) to do. Thank you to those who are finally speaking their truth. It is not easy.”


We’re so upset to hear Emily’s first steps into the industry were so fraught. But we’re happy she’s finally back in the spotlight!

Ch-ch-check out Charlie in their winning cover of Adele‘s Someone Like You that started it all (below)!

If you’re as interested in following Emily’s journey as we are, find her on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter!

[Image via NBC/YouTube.]

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U.S. Growth at Above-Forecast 3% on Consumers and Businesses

The U.S. economy expanded at a faster pace than forecast in the third quarter, indicating resilient demand from consumers and businesses even with the hit from hurricanes Harvey and Irma, Commerce Department data showed Friday.

Key Takeaways

While GDP grew more than anticipated, analysts look to another key measure to assess the true health of the economy. Final sales to domestic purchasers, which strip out trade and inventories — the two most volatile components of the GDP calculation — climbed 1.8 percent, the slowest since early 2016, after rising 2.7 percent in prior quarter.

The fallout from the hurricanes was mixed, probably depressing some figures while lifting others. The storms inflicted extensive damage on parts of Texas and Florida, though the effect is likely to be transitory as economic activity is expected to rebound amid rebuilding efforts.

Consumer spending, which accounts for about 70 percent of the economy, added 1.6 percentage point to growth last quarter. That was driven by motor vehicles, as Americans replaced cars damaged by the storms, while services spending slowed to the weakest pace since 2013. Even so, a steady job market, contained inflation and low borrowing costs are expected to provide the wherewithal for households to sustain their spending.

The first reading of GDP, the value of all goods and services produced, also showed continued strength in business investment, indicating growth is broadening out to more sources beyond household consumption. Companies are upbeat about the outlook and overseas markets are improving, which may help boost exports and contain the trade deficit.

At the same time, the details of business investment showed a mixed picture. The decline in investment in structures probably reflects the hit from Hurricane Harvey, especially on oil and gas drilling.

Residential investment remained a weak spot. Builders are up against a shortage of qualified labor and ready-to-build lots at the same time sales are being held back by a shortage of available properties that’s driving up prices.

Price data in the GDP report showed inflation picked up while still lagging behind the Federal Reserve’s 2 percent goal. Excluding food and energy, the Fed’s preferred price index — which is tied to personal spending — rose at a 1.3 percent annualized rate last quarter, following a 0.9 percent gain.

Fed policy makers can point to evidence that growth is steady enough to allow them to keep raising interest rates, with investors expecting a quarter-point increase in December.

While the economy is probably on solid footing in the ninth year of this expansion, the central bank and many economists expect GDP growth to slow beyond 2018, moving closer to 2 percent rather than the sustained 3 percent pace that the Trump administration says will happen if its tax plan is enacted.

Economist Views

“It’s hard to confidently discern the hurricane effects in this report, but the economy seems to be on pretty solid ground,” said Michael Feroli, chief U.S. economist at JPMorgan Chase & Co. in New York. “The details are reasonably solid. Consumers stepped down a little from the second quarter but their spending still expanded at a decent pace.”

The gain in equipment investment shows “businesses may be getting a little more confident about the expansion, both here in the U.S. and abroad,” he said. Overall, the report “probably gives a little more confidence to the Fed to hike rates before year-end, but I don’t think it’s a game-changer.”

Other Details

  • Nonresidential investment — which includes spending on equipment, structures and intellectual property — increased 3.9 percent and added 0.49 percentage point to growth
  • Equipment investment jumped 8.6 percent for a fourth quarter of growth, longest streak since 2014
  • Residential investment fell at a 6 percent rate after 7.3 percent drop, worst two-quarter performance since 2010
  • Net exports added 0.41 percentage point to growth as exports rose, imports fell; inventories added 0.73 point, most since 2016
  • Government spending fell at a 0.1 percent rate; the figures reflected 1.1 percent in federal spending, driven by defense, while state and local outlays dropped 0.9 percent
  • After-tax incomes adjusted for inflation increased at a 0.6 percent annual pace, down from the previous quarter’s 3.3 percent; saving rate fell to 3.4 percent from 3.8 percent
  • GDP report is the first of three estimates for the quarter; the other two are due in November and December as more data become available

    Highlights of Third-Quarter GDP (First Estimate)

    • Gross domestic product grew at a 3% annualized rate (est. 2.6%) following a 3.1% gain in 2Q, best back-to-back quarters since 2014
    • Consumer spending, biggest part of the economy, grew 2.4% (est. 2.1%) after 3.3% in 2Q
    • Business fixed investment rose 1.5%, adding 0.25 ppt to growth; spending on nonresidential structures fell, equipment and intellectual property gained, residential dropped
    • Trade, inventories added a combined 1.14 ppt to growth
    • Commerce Dept. said it can’t estimate hurricanes’ impact on GDP; disaster losses on fixed assets, private and public, totaled about $131.4b

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    Medication management app Echo raises 7M Series A led by White Star Capital

    Echo, the U.K. startup that offers an app to help you manage your medication and order repeat prescriptions for delivery, has raised £7 million in Series A funding. The round is led by White Star Capital, with participation from MMC Ventures, LocalGlobe, and Rocket Internet’s Global Founders Capital.

    Notably,, the accelerator and investment vehicle founded by Alexander de Carvalho and ex-government advisor Daniel Korski to support startups transforming the public sector, has also invested. It brings total funding for Echo to £8.8 million and follows a £1.8 million seed round in 2016.

    Founded by Sai Lakshmi, who previously worked in biz dev for Apple, and Stephen Bourke, who was previously a manager at Lloyds Pharmacy’s online doctor service, the Echo app for iOS and Android lets you order NHS prescriptions and get your medication delivered to your door. You simply tell the app the name of your GP and what repeat medication you take, which can be input using your phone’s camera and with the help of Echo’s NLP tech.

    From then on in, the app alerts you when you need to take your medicine and when you are running low. When a new prescription is required, under your instruction Echo will send the appropriate request to your doctor and nominate a pharmacy partner on your behalf. Once approved by your GP, your medicine is dispatched by 2nd class post and you pay the standard NHS charge if applicable.

    All of this is enabled by the way echo has deeply integrated with the NHS Electronic Prescription Service (EPS), meaning that it works with existing GP NHS England practice systems and tech, and doesn’t require extra work on the GP surgery’s part. The idea is to make medication management, especially for people who have chronic conditions and take regular medicine, as hassle-free as possible.

    From the in-depth demo of Echo I was given by Lakshmi and Bourke a few weeks ago it is also clear how much attention to detail has gone into the front-end of the app, resulting in a really good user experience and one that attempts to improve the quality of life of people on long-term medication.

    Rather than think of Echo as simply bringing convenience in the Uber sense of the word for people who don’t like visiting the doctor or local pharmacy — which it does — the app also has the potential to remove stress and anxiety related to the possibility of running out of or forgetting to take your medication. Although it’s early days, Echo has been shown to improve adherence, too.

    The latter is potentially quite a big deal; I’m told the NHS spends almost £18 billion a year on medication, but it is estimated that between a third and half of all medicines prescribed for long-term conditions are not taken as recommended. This has direct cost implications in terms of throwing away unused medication but also indirectly since a lack of adherence can lead to unnecessary hospital stays or other more expensive treatment.

    In a call, White Star Capital’s Christian Hernandez, who joins Echo’s board, said that the U.K. startup was an attractive investment in a number of different ways. Thought of simply as an e-commerce play — which in many ways it is, taking a cut from partner pharmacies per order — the company’s offering has customer lifetime value baked in.

    People on long term medication are going to be pretty sticky once signed up to the app, of which 50,000 have, and are Echo’s customers to lose. As long as the startup remains steadfastly focussed on customer service and can provide a superior experience to competing online pharmacies, he thinks the company can take a decent chunk of what is a large market.

    In 2016, 1.1 billion prescription items were dispensed by the NHS within England, while there are said to be 15 million patients in England with a long term condition.

    Beyond e-commerce, Hernandez sees other potential revenue streams, such as offering data to the pharmacy industry to help better manage the supply chain, but was keen to stress that Echo’s impact goes well beyond its commercial possibilities. Specifically, he talked up the benefits to patients’ health, the cost savings for the NHS in relation to medication waste and increased adherence, and for GP surgeries who can further reduce admin costs.

    In other words, Echo could actually be an example of a Silicon Valley-styled startup that genuinely creates more value than it captures.

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    Sarah Huckabee Sanders tweets about $4,000 ‘raise’ from Trump tax planand it completely backfires

    White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders on Sunday asked Twitter users what they would do with money President Donald Trump’s administration believes the “average” American family would save under his tax plan–and the responses were brutal.

    “The average American family would get a $4,000 raise under the President’s tax cut plan. So how could any member of Congress be against it?” Sanders wrote in a series of tweets. “What would your family do w/ a $4,000 raise from the President’s tax cut plan? REPLY & I’ll share your family’s story in the press briefing. Do you stand w/ the Democrats for higher taxes & bigger government? Or w/ @POTUS for lower taxes & thousands more $$$ in take home pay?”

    Some people were quick to point out that the suggestion that every “average American family” would be receiving $4,000 was misleading. According to the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center, cutting the corporate tax rate from 35 percent to 20 percent would mostly help people who made at least $465,626 annually.

    But other people played along with the idea that a magical $4,000 check would land in their laps. As one Twitter user put it, “this isn’t gonna go well for you, Sarah.”

    They were right.

    Somehow, it doesn’t seem likely Sanders will be sharing any of those ideas during the next press briefing.

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