SERIOUSLY!? City of Seattle’s response to reports about new soda tax proves prog pols FAILED Econ-101

The city of Seattle had a new soda tax kick in on January 1st, and it’s quite a doozy:

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Spinal-Cord Implants to Numb Pain Emerge as Alternative to Pills

For millions of Americans suffering from debilitating nerve pain, a once-overlooked option has emerged as an alternative to high doses of opioids: implanted medical devices using electricity to counteract pain signals the same way noise-canceling headphones work against sound. 

The approach, called neuromodulation, has been a godsend for Linda Landy, who was a 42-year-old runner when a foot surgery went awry in 2008. She was diagnosed with complex regional pain syndrome, a condition dubbed the suicide disease by doctors: The pain is so unrelenting that many people take their own lives.

Linda Landy and family

Last November, Landy underwent surgery to get an Abbott Laboratories device that stimulates the dorsal root ganglion, a spot in the spine that was the pain conduit for her damaged nerves. A year after getting her implant, called DRG, she’s cut back drastically on pain pills.

“The DRG doesn’t take the pain completely away, but it changes it into something I can live with,” said Landy, a mother of three in Fort Worth, Texas. She’s now now able to walk again and travel by plane without using a wheelchair. “It sounds minor, but it’s really huge.”

Crackdown on Opioids

Recent innovations from global device makers like Abbott to smaller specialists such as Nevro Corp. made the implants more powerful and effective. Combined with a national crackdown on narcotics and wanton pain pill prescriptions, they are spurring demand for implants.

The market may double to $4 billion in 10 years, up from about $1.8 billion in the U.S. and $500 million in Europe today, according to health-care research firm Decisions Resources Group.

“There was a big stigma around this when it first came out,” said Paul Desormeaux, a Decisions Resources analyst in Toronto. “The idea of sending an electrical signal through your nervous system was a little daunting, but as clinical data has come out and physicians have been able to prove its safety, there has been a big change in the general attitude.”

Read More: Millions Face Pain, Withdrawal as Opioid Prescriptions Plummet

At least 50 million adults in the U.S. suffer from chronic pain, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Only a fraction of them would benefit from spinal-cord stimulation — about 3.6 million, according to Decisions Resources — but those are patients who are often given the highest doses of narcotics. They include people with nerve damage stemming from conditions like diabetic neuropathy and shingles, as well as surgeries.

“There is no question we are reducing the risk of opioid dependence by implanting these devices,” said Timothy Deer, president of the Spine and Nerve Centers of the Virginias in Charleston, West Virginia, a hotbed of the opioid epidemic. “If we get someone before they are placed on opioids, 95 percent of the time we can reduce their need to ever go on them.”

Studies show spinal-cord stimulators can reduce use of powerful pain drugs by 60 percent or more, said Deer, a clinical professor of anesthesiology.

Read More: Tangled Incentives Push Drugmakers Away From an Opioid Solution

Technology breakthroughs that are just now reaching patients came from a better understanding of how pain signals are transmitted within the spinal cord, the main thoroughfare between the command center in the brain and the body.

For some chronic pain patients, the spinal cord runs too efficiently, speeding signs of distress. Stimulators send their own pulses of electrical activity to offset or interrupt the pain zinging along the nerve fibers. They have been available for more than three decades, but until recently their invasive nature, potential safety risks and cost limited demand.

Market Leader Abbott

Illinois-based Abbott, with its $29 billion acquisition of St. Jude Medical this year, took the market lead with advances that allow it to target specific nerves and tailor the treatment. Nevro, of Redwood City, California, has rolled out improvement to its Senza system, a best-in-class approach that is safe while getting an MRI and operates without the tingling that often accompanies spinal-cord stimulation.

In the latest devices, which cost $30,000 or more, codes that are running the electrical pulses are more sophisticated. The frequency, rate and amplitude can be adjusted, often by the patients, which allows personalized therapy. 

The new implants are also smaller: The surgery is generally an outpatient procedure with minimal post-operative pain and a short recovery. They have longer battery life, reducing the need for replacement. And patients can try out a non-invasive version of the equipment before getting a permanent implant.

“This is really a defining moment in what we can do to impact the lives of people who suffer from chronic pain,” said Allen Burton, Abbott’s medical director of neuromodulation. “We can dampen the chronic pain signal and give patients their lives back.”

Medtronic Plc, which pioneered the technique but ceded the lead in recent years, is now working on next-generation devices. The company recently gained approval for the smallest pain-management implant, Intellis. In development are devices that can detect pain waves and adjust automatically, said Geoff Martha, executive vice president of Medtronic’s restorative therapies group.

“A self-correcting central nervous system — that’s the panacea. That’s the ultimate goal,” Martha said. “It could take a huge bite out of the opioid problem.”

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    Former Coach Star And Longtime Comedian Jerry Van Dyke Dead At 86

    The famed younger brother of Dick Van Dyke and a longtime actor on Coach and other projects, Jerry Van Dyke has died.

    He was 86 years old.

    The longtime showbiz performer (pictured above, left, next to his brother Dick) died on Friday afternoon at his ranch in Arkansas with his wife Shirley by his side, according to TMZ.

    Jerry had been involved in a car accident two years ago, and apparently his health had been deteriorating ever since.

    The younger Van Dyke was a beloved comedian in his day, just like his older brother, and performed stand-up as a young man at military bases all around the world before making his acting debut on The Dick Van Dyke Show.

    He transitioned from that into appearances on The Ed Sullivan Show, and eventually worked his way into becoming a regular on The Judy Garland Show.

    Of course, Jerry was best known for his role on Coach. The comedian-turned-actor earned four Emmy nominations for playing assistant coach Luther Van Dam on the show alongside star Craig T. Nelson.

    Related: Val Kilmer Opens Up About Battling Throat Cancer

    Jerry also more recently enjoyed roles on shows like Yes, Dear, and The Middle.

    He is survived by Shirley and their two children.

    Our thoughts and prayers go out to all his friends and loved ones.


    [Image via Getty Images.]

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    Whitney Port Gets Candid About How She’ll Spend Her Son’s First Holiday – EXCLUSIVE

    Whitney Port seemingly does it all: since rising to fame after being cast in the MTV series , Port’s career has only soared higher — she’s juggling her own fashion line, serving as a judge on the eighth cycle of and authoring a book, . And, as much as she’s accomplished in her career, she’s also made some big moves in her personal life. After marrying television producer Tim Rosenman in 2015, Port and Rosenman welcomed their first child in July 2017, a baby boy (adorably) named Sonny.

    Needless to say, Port has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season.

    Now, Port is sharing everything about her holiday plans as a new mom, including how she’ll be handling Sonny’s very first time on a plane as she and Rosenman visit family. She tells Elite Daily, “That should be interesting!”

    As far as holiday traditions, Port says things have changed a bunch over the years. She says,

    And when it comes to traveling with Sonny, Port is no-nonsense in regards to his health. Recently partnering with Tylenol, Port tells Elite Daily she is going to arm herself with all of the travel must-haves for her baby’s first flight. She says,

    She adds that she might even do something special for other passengers, in the event that Sonny becomes difficult. She says, “Someone asked me, ‘Are you going to make little goody bags for all of the passengers sitting around you, so that if your baby is kind of a mess and crying, you’ve given them [the passengers] a little something, like some candy or some treats?’ and I was like ‘Oh, that’s actually a really good idea, I’ve never thought about that!'”

    A new mom who knows how to keep her baby the plane passengers around her happy? Definitive proof that not all heroes wear capes.

    Whitney Port

    Traveling aside, Port explains that Christmas is about the “simple things,” and how her idea of perfect Christmas morning is much like the holiday season itself: relaxed and comfortable. “I think honestly that by the end of the year, it’s normal for people to feel so burnt out, and it’s really nice to have the time to travel and do nothing with people that you feel very comfortable with,” she says.

    And don’t forget the food. She continues,

    When Port reflects back on her year, she explains how being a mom has changed her life in ways she didn’t believe were possible. She tells Elite Daily, “It’s wild. It’s obviously completely overwhelming – it’s something so new that you have no experience doing, and can read about but don’t really know what to expect until you have it. But it’s also just so rewarding and amazing and filled with love at the same time. It’s awesome.”

    She also shares some of the highlights of being a new mom:

    Whitney Port

    But Port notes that there challenging times, and trying to find a “balance” is something that she knows she might not ever perfect. “I think the most challenging part is just finding the balance between your old life and your new life,” she says. “And I’m not even sure if it’s something you ever really find perfectly, but I think that you kind of do your best to pay attention to both aspects of your life. I think that when I was pregnant, I thought, “Oh, I’m just going to be one of those moms where my baby just fits into what going to do.” And it didn’t really take me too long to figure out that Sonny’s the boss, and that I kind of have to make my life fit into what needs.”

    She continued, “I think that’s the biggest challenge is that it’s just the sacrifice you have to make, both professionally and in your relationship with your husband, to keep your baby happy and healthy.”

    Still, it seems that Port is balancing her plate pretty well: as a new mom, a wife, and a business woman, she seems to strike an envious equilibrium that makes her extraordinary yet somehow also relatable to the everyday mom.

    For more of Whitney Port’s tips on being a new mom, you can visit her YouTube channel.

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    Macron awards US scientists grants to move to France in defiance of Trump

    Frances president awards millions of euros to 18 American scientists to relocate in effort to counter Donald Trump on the climate change front

    Eighteen climate scientists from the US and elsewhere have hit the jackpot as Frances president, Emmanuel Macron, awarded them millions of euros in grants to relocate to France for the rest of Donald Trumps presidential term.

    The Make Our Planet Great Again grants a nod to Trumps Make America Great Again campaign slogan are part of Macrons efforts to counter Trump on the climate change front. Macron announced a contest for the projects in June, hours after Trump declared he would withdraw the US from the Paris climate accord.

    More than 5,000 people from about 100 countries expressed interest in the grants. Most of the applicants and 13 of the 18 winners were US-based researchers.

    Macrons appeal gave me such a psychological boost, to have that kind of support, to have the head of state saying I value what you do, said winner Camille Parmesan, of the University of Texas at Austin. She will be working at an experimental ecology station in the Pyrenees on how human-made climate change is affecting wildlife.

    In an interview with the Associated Press, Parmesan described funding challenges for climate science in the US and a feeling that you are having to hide what you do.

    Trump has expressed skepticism about global warming and said the Paris accord would hurt US business by requiring a reduction in climate-damaging emissions.

    We will be there to replace US financing of climate research, Macron told the winners in Paris on Monday.

    If we want to prepare for the changes of tomorrow, we need science, he said, promising to put in place a global climate change monitoring system among other climate innovations.

    The research of the winning recipients focuses on pollution, hurricanes and clouds. A new round of the competition will be launched next year, alongside Germany. About 50 projects will be chosen overall, and funded with 60m ($70m) from the state and French research institutes.

    Initially aimed at American researchers, the research grants were expanded to other non-French climate scientists, according to organizers. Candidates need to be known for working on climate issues, have completed a thesis and propose a project that would take between three to five years.

    The time frame would cover Trumps current presidential term.

    Some French researchers have complained that Macron is showering money on foreign scientists at a time when they have been pleading for more support for domestic higher education.

    Macron unveiled the first winners at a startup incubator in Paris called Station F, where Microsoft and smaller tech companies announced projects to finance activities aimed at reducing emissions.

    Mondays event is a prelude to a bigger climate summit Tuesday aimed at giving new impetus to the Paris accord and finding new funding to help governments and businesses meet its goals.

    More than 50 world leaders are expected in Paris for the One Planet Summit, co-hosted by the UN and the World Bank. Trump was not invited.

    Other attendees include Arnold Schwarzenegger, who took a spin on a Parisian electric bike Monday to call attention to health problems caused by pollution.

    The Hollywood star and former California governor argued that Trumps rejection of the Paris climate accord doesnt matter, because companies, scientists and other governments can pick up the slack to reduce global emissions.

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    The Ten Worst Things Scott Pruitts EPA Has Already Done

    No part of the government has been untouched by the Trump revolution. Multiple Cabinet departments are headed by people opposed to their core missions, the judiciary is being transformed at an unprecedented rate, and thanks to the new tax cut, even the sacred cows of Medicare and Social Security are now in line for legislative slaughter.

    But nowhere is the takeover clearer than at the Environmental Protection Agency, now headed by Scott Pruitt, who made his name suing the watchdog on behalf of fossil-fuel interests. In one year, Pruitt has destroyed the foundations of the agency, firing scientists and replacing them with industry lobbyists; undoing critical regulations that protect our air and water; and favoring industry interests over public health.

    The trajectory is clear: Prioritize polluters freedom over personal freedom, health, and environmental protection. Here are the top 10 worst actions Pruitts EPA has taken in 2017:

    10. Corruption

    Pruitt is probably the most suspect member of the Trump administration, which is saying a lot. At his confirmation, he lied to Congress (a felony) about his private email account, which he used for communicating with industry representatives. When he served as Oklahomas attorney general, Pruitt was discovered to have simply cut and pasted a letter written by oil giant Devon Energy onto his own stationery.

    And then theres the money. Since taking office, Pruitt racked up $58,000 in taxpayer-paid travel bills for flights to and from Oklahoma (where he is rumored to be mulling a Senate run in 2020), often on the flimsiest of pretexts. The EPAs inspector general is investigating.

    Pruitt also spent $40,000 of taxpayer money to fly to Morocco to promote fossil fuels. (How that counts as environmental protection is anyones guess.) And he retained a shady PR firm that has previously done opposition research on journalists, at the cost to taxpayers of $120,000a contract voided when the news of it broke.

    9. Slashing the Budget to Tidbits

    The EPA is, in large part, a law-enforcement agency. Yet can you imagine any other law-enforcement department slashing its budget by more than 30 percent in one year? The result is a deliberate anarchy as polluters know the EPA cant (and doesnt want to) do its job. Enforcement actions have dropped by more than 30 percent from Obama administration levels, and more than 20 percent from George W. Bush levels. Demands that polluting factories clean up their act have plummeted nearly 90 percent. The cops are just not walking the beat.

    For example, Superfund enforcementi.e., making polluters pay for cleaning up the toxic messes theyve madehas been cut 37 percent, causing many cleanups to simply stop altogether (PDF). In 2017 alone, programs that have been completely eliminated include those that reduce radon in schools, control runoff pollution from roads, and certify lead-paint-removal contractors, among many others. And thats by design: Candidate Trump promised to eliminate all of the EPA, leaving only tidbits. Pruitt is his hatchet man. But even these budget cuts dont include the largest shrinking of the agency…

    8. Hollowing Out the Agency

    Its not just EPAs budget being cutits the agency itself. More than 700 employees have left or been forced out. Thats just the beginning: Congress is set to appropriate $60 million to buy out the contracts of EPA staff, whose positions will be eliminated. Many high-level enforcement jobs remain vacant.

    Other key posts have been filled by former industry shills, like Nancy Beck, a chemical-industry lobbyist whos now ostensibly in charge of regulating toxic chemicals. Whistleblowers have reported a culture of fear and suspicion, with longtime staffers assumed to be disloyal to the new regime.

    Elgie Holstein, senior director for strategic planning at Environmental Defense Fund, told The Daily Beast these cuts are motivated not by budgetary concerns but by opposition to the EPAs core mission. Its easy to think of it as reducing bureaucracy, Holstein said, but when you consider the fact that EPA is such a small agency to begin with, with a budget thats basically what it was in the 1970s (adjusted for inflation), its pretty clear that further reductions in staff is all part of a strategy to undermine and hollow out EPA as an effective public health agency.

    7. Disaster Failure

    One of the most stark examples of the EPAs incapacity came after Hurricane Harvey, when the unfolding storm disaster caused factories to release nearly 6 million pounds of pollution into the air. The EPA was slow to respond, but quick to issue a press release congratulating itself. In one case, a chemical plant exploded, triggering evacuations, and the EPA was found to have simply not shown up at the scene until after the explosion happened.

    By coincidence, the EPA had just withdrawn the Chemical Disaster Rule, which would require companies to disclose which hazardous materials they had on site. That withdrawal didnt affect the Houston response, but it indicated that the next such disaster might be even worse; the EPA is not a disaster-response agencyits value comes from monitoring risks over the long term, which now it wont do as efficiently.

    This will only get worse. Global climate disruption has already increased the frequency of extreme weather events. If the EPAs budget is slashed by a third, and if climate change is not allowed to be spoken of, let alone factored into risk analysis and resource allocation, Harvey is just a tiny taste of what is to come.

    6. Secrecy

    You wouldnt know the EPA is a public agency from Pruitts unprecedented secrecy. He has demanded that employees not take notes at meetings with him, ordered a denial of Freedom of Information Act requests, and implemented gag rules that ban staffers from talking about a host of environmental issues. Until pressured, he refused to release his meeting calendarnot surprisingly, given what it reveals (see No. 5).

    And once again, theres the enormous waste of money. Pruitt has retained his own round-the-clock security detail, costing taxpayers $830,000. No EPA administrator has ever done that. He also installed a secure phone booth in his own office for $33,000, and special locks that cost $6,000.

    The reason for all this secrecy is obvious

    5. The EPA Is Now an Industry Puppet

    As he did in Oklahoma, Scott Pruitt is taking his orders from the polluters hes meant to regulate. The New York Times recently tracked who Pruitt met with on a single day, April 26: top executives from a coal-burning utility, the board of a huge coal-mining company, and lobbyists from General Motors. No environmental or public health groups.

    The remainder of the six-month period the Times examined was similar: chemical manufacturers, Shell Oil, truck manufacturers, the National Mining Association, Oklahoma oil lobbyists; not to mention the Koch brothers-funded American Legislative Exchange Council and CropLife America, a trade association run by pesticide manufacturers.

    The effects of these close contacts have been obvious.Sometimes, theyve been plums handed out to specific companies, like the aforementioned Devon Energy, which had agreed to pay hundreds of thousands of dollars in penalties for illegally emitting 80 tons of toxic pollution each yearuntil Pruitt simply voided the settlement and let it go with a slap on the wrist.

    More often, the effects are far broader…

    4. Regulatory Rollback

    Pruitts EPA has eliminated regulations that:

    • Verified emissions from a companys industrial expansion are what the company says they are. (Now the EPA will simply take estimates at face value.) (PDF)
    • Blocked a potentially disastrous mining operation in Alaskas Bristol Bay. (The mine will now go forward, though a single leak could devastate the worlds largest sockeye salmon population.)
    • Required the tracking of methane emissions (this decision was overturned by the Supreme Court).
    • Required data collection of emissions from oil and gas companies.
    • Monitored fracking.
    • Required companies to disclose which hazardous chemicals theyre storing.
    • Protected tributaries of sensitive bodies of water (even though the EPAs analysis showed it would cost less to prevent the pollution than to allow it). (PDF)
    • Set tighter emissions standards for trucks.
    • Banned the toxic pesticide chlorpyrifos.

    Still under rollback review are restrictions on smog, coal ash, mining waste, mercury, and benzene pollution. Even the popular Energy Star appliance certification program has been slated for reduction.

    3. The Clean Power Plan

    Power plants account for approximately 35 percent of U.S. carbon emissions. Without tackling power plants, you cant address climate change. And without unified federal action, you cant address power plants.

    The Clean Power Plan was born on Aug. 3, 2015, when it was finalized by President Obamas EPA, and it died on March 28, 2017, when President Trump called for a review. To no ones surprise, in October, the EPA recommended a total repeal.

    Its hard to overestimate how important and game-changing the Clean Power Plan was. It called for a 32 percent reduction in power-plant carbon emissions by 2030. It offered incentives for investment in renewable energy, creating thousands of jobs. It set state-by-state targets that took into account each states unique needs. And now its dead.

    2. The War on Science

    In the era of alternative facts, its no surprise that science, the scientific method, and scientists have all come under attack at Pruitts EPA.

    To take one example, Pruitts climate denialism (more on this later) defies the unanimous consent of the scientific community, choosing the fake science of fake think tanks like the Heartland Institute, which regularly churns out bogus scientific reports to create the perception that there is significant disagreement about climate change.

    Another example was Pruitts decision that scientists who have received EPA funding within three years can no longer serve on the agencys 12 scientific advisory committees. While that may sound like a smart conflict-of-interest provision, its actual effect will be to exclude the majority of scientific experts from serving on the committees, and to replace them with industry experts instead.

    For good measure, Pruitt has also defied economics as well. In fact, renewable energy generates more jobs than fossil fuel energy, but Pruitt endlessly repeats the lie that regulatory rollbacks are needed to save jobs.

    All this has happened away from the spotlight. To the average person, said Holstein, the EPA seems like a murky government agency and nobody really knows how it works. But everyone who is familiar with it knows that its science and technology capabilities are at the heart of its success in protecting all of us from pollution.

    1. Climate Change Denial

    Finally, in terms of real-world consequences, theres nothing that tops climate change. The World Health Organization estimates that 250,000 people will die each year between 2030-2050 from factors directly attributable to climate change. That doesnt even count the mass migration crises that rising sea levels and changing crop zones will bring about. There is full scientific consensus that human emissions are warming the planet; over a five-year period, 928 peer-reviewed articles affirmed this fact, while zero opposed it.

    Pruitt has stuck the EPAs head in the scientific sand. The phrase climate change has been erased from the agency website. Any offices working on climate change have been closed or reassigned. Pruitt has even created a blacklist of EPA employees who had worked or published on the issue. Meanwhile, Pruitt claims to have advised Trump to withdraw from the Paris accord on climate change, which he did, even though the rest of the world has signed it and is moving forward without the U.S.

    Nor is Pruitt alone. His chief of staff, Ryan Jackson, was previously the chief for Oklahoma Sen. James Inhofe, who calls climate change a hoax. Pruitt has also hired Inhofe aide Byron Brown to serve as his deputy.

    Pruitt has gotten in a little trouble for these actions. After stating on CNBC that I would not agree that [carbon dioxide] is a primary contributor to the global warming that we see, the EPA inspector general referred the matter to the EPAs scientific integrity officer, Francesca Grifo, since EPA officials are required to reflect scientific consensus in their comments. (In response, a right-wing group demanded an investigation of Grifo.)

    But theres little that can stop Pruitts anti-science crusade, absent congressional action, which, with the present Congress, seems highly unlikely. After going through some of this litany with the EDFs Holstein, I asked him if there was anything that any of us could or should do.

    Holstein said the most important actions to watch for in 2018 may be in the obscure realms of budget cuts and regional office closures. There are also a lot of things well be looking at in terms of whether administration will lower the hurdle for pollutants, reduce enforcement at EPA and at the Justice Department, and try to dial the budget down at NOAA [the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which often studies climate change] and other science agencies.

    When I asked if there was any hope, given the awful news from 2017, Holstein took the long view. What I say to people who want to give up is: Dont do it, he said. We have built over the last 40 to 50 years a bipartisan national legacy of bedrock environmental protections and safeguards and we should fight for them. The fact that President Trump and Administrator Pruitt would like to help polluters avoid responsibility doesnt change one bit the fact that we have nearly a half century of national and public commitment to a cleaner environment and healthier communities.

    Besides, Holstein added, we have a great deal at stake.

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    Siberian Farm Cats Have Absolutely Taken Over This Farmers Land, And Theyre Absolutely Majestic

    Just when you think you’re the craziest cat lady around, someone else goes ahead and one-ups you to the fullest. Russian farmer Alla Lebedeva has turned her homestead into a self-proclaimed ‘Catland,’ and has gone viral with the incredible photographs and videos she takes of her many glorious Siberian cats.

    Stationed in Prigorodny, just outside Barnaul, Siberia, Lebedeva and her husband Sergey have been raising cats for over a decade. “How many do we have now? To such a question I usually answer ‘a million, maybe more,'” Lebedeva tells DesignYouTrust. “They live in the henhouse… They have three ‘little bedrooms’ there where can they sleep according to how they feel. Our cats protect the chickens and rabbits from rats and mice.”

    Alla’s photo and video diary of her feline family’s daily adventures now have a following of over 2 thousand on YouTube, yet they continued to be circulated around the Internet without permission and passed off as ‘Norwegians.’ Though the Siberian cat is closely related to the famous Norwegian Forest Cat, please remember that they are separate species – and always remember to credit anything you share if possible. It’s good for your health.

    Scroll down and be transported to Koshlandia, and let us know if you’d like to visit this ‘cat hostel’ sometime.

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    This Abortion Law For Minors Isn’t Helping Much, A New Report Shows EXCLUSIVE

    As 2017 comes to a close, there are currently 37 states that require parental involvement for a minor to get an abortion. That means that anyone under the age of 18 in a majority of America need one or both parents to be part of the decision to have an abortion. There’s some obvious logic there: Minors need parental permission to do lots of things, so getting parental permission for a medical procedure makes sense at first thought. However, a new study from Advancing New Standards in Reproductive Health (ANSIRH), which is based at the University of California, San Francisco (UCSF), found that parental notification laws for abortion could potentially put minors at medical risk.

    “Proponents of these laws often argue that they’re necessary in order to ensure positive family communication about abortion decisions,” Lauren Ralph, epidemiologist at UCSF and the lead author of the study, tells me in an interview for Elite Daily. “But we actually know very little about what happens with respect to minors’ decision-making or their experience accessing care when they are mandated by law to involve a parent.”

    The study, published on Dec. 13, analyzed almost 1,600 young women seeking abortions in Illinois, where a parental notification law was put in effect in 2013 (meaning that a young woman needs to tell at least one parent before getting an abortion). Overall, the study found no increase in a young woman’s certainty in making the decision to get an abortion. Additionally, there was no noted increase in parental support.

    “Although more minors involved a parent in their decision after the law went into effect, this increased level of parental involvement did not translate into increased levels of parental support for the decision,” Ralph says. Meanwhile, there was a trend “towards less certainty about their decision after the law went into effect.”

    More troubling, however, were results from the study that indicated that there were delays in care for young women with the parental notification law in place. After the law was enacted, a higher proportion of young women from outside of the state — from states with even stricter laws — traveling to Illinois to get an abortion were seeking the procedure in the second trimester of a pregnancy, rather than in the first. The longer you wait into a pregnancy for the procedure, the more complex — and potentially dangerous — an abortion becomes (although, overall, abortion is a very safe procedure).

    “Since we also see that these laws are associated with an increase in the proportion of minors accessing second-trimester care, it calls into question whether the downsides to these laws outweigh the potential benefit,” Ralph says. “Since we see an increase in the proportion accessing second-trimester abortion, that suggests that they’re facing additional barriers after the law goes into effect.”

    Pete Marovich/Getty Images News/Getty Images

    Laws surrounding abortion often hinge on the question of “undue burden,” as was the case for the landmark Supreme Court case. Basically, that means that courts have to measure if the benefits of a law outweigh the negatives. If they don’t, it’s considered an unconstitutional undue burden.

    “I think that our research definitely calls into question the utility of laws that mandate parental involvement in a minor’s decision to have an abortion,” Ralph says.

    Before the law went into place, about two-thirds of minors already involved a parent in the process to get an abortion, the report says. And, as mentioned, parental involvement did not improve parental support or how certain young women felt in their decision to get an abortion. Meanwhile, there were the questions of barriers to care. In addition to the increase in second-trimester abortions, the researchers found an overall decrease in minors seeking abortions — although the report did not look into the reason for that.

    While parental involvement can often be helpful for a teenager, there are many cases where the law would present more of a barrier. (If a teenager is unable to fulfill the parental notification requirement, there is an option to seek a “judicial bypass” — i.e. go to court and get a judge to allow them to get the medical procedure. It’s a tough bind for teenagers.) This barrier is not limited to teenagers being nervous about telling a parent — consider, for instance, teenagers with abusive or incarcerated parents. For them, these laws are a much more serious barrier to care.

    The effects of a law as simple-sounding as parental notification can be wide-ranging, and it’s important to consider every woman. Anti-abortion politicians often state that a law is enacted to “protect women,” but studies like these show what’s going on in reality. More often than not, all that laws around abortion do is make accessing health care even more difficult for women of all ages.

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    Fly Ventures, a Berlin-based VC using machine learning to find its next deal, closes $41M fund

    Fly Ventures, a relatively new VC operating out of Berlin, has closed its first fund at $41 million, capital it will use to invest at seed-stage in startups across Europe. LPs in the fund include the European Investment Fund (EIF), Korelya Capital, and a number of unnamed family offices from Europe and the U.S.

    Specifically, Fly Ventures will be writing cheque sizes of $400,000 to $900,000 into seed rounds of between $1 million and $2.5 million. It is targeting the whole of Europe, but I’m told that Berlin, Paris, and London will be a key focus. In terms of investment thesis, the firm is planning on investing in automation.

    This includes vertical applications where the customer doesn’t really care about or notice the use of AI and machine learning in order to deliver a service, and horizontal AI technology that is more explicit and can be put to multiple uses.

    Noteworthy, however, is that Fly Ventures itself is attempting to punch above its weight and scale by using what it claims is machine learning and AI to help generate deal flow, and in turn discover burgeoning tech startups, often before they’ve even begun fundraising. Using its technology, Fly Ventures claims it is able to find and approach startups with a digital footprint, and says its software currently finds more than 1,000 new companies a week.

    On the surface, at least, that sounds like a similar approach to the one being taken by Roberto Bonanzinga’s InReach Ventures in London.

    Supported by a software engineering team made up of ex-Googlers, the Fly Ventures’ tech is currently focussed on automating sourcing i.e. identifying potential investments. “Our platform pulls data from hundreds of sources including blogs, job boards, accelerators, and databases like CrunchBase,” Fly Ventures co-founder and General Partner Gabriel Matuschka tells me.

    “Our algorithms then use a combination of structured and unstructured data derived from these sources to rank and filter the companies we find. The results are presented to the investment team in a Tinder like interface that lets us quickly decide whether we want to speak to a company”.

    I’m told that so far about 60 percent of the startups Fly Ventures speaks to are approached cold, meaning that the VC firm reaches out to a team without a deal coming in via its own network or via founders approaching them.

    Companies in its current portfolio that were discovered via cold outbound search include Side, a job-matching platform for students; and EF alumni Bloomsbury AI, which is developing technology to read and answer questions on legal, insurance and financial documents.

    “We’ve found that founders are very receptive to us reaching out to them. Not once did it happen that founders didn’t want to speak to us, especially after we told them how we found their company,” says Matuschka.

    The vertical sectors Fly has invested in to date include finance, HR and recruiting, and mobility and health. Recent investments include Finiata, the financing company for SMEs, freelancers and the self-employed, which this week raised €18 million; and Inato, an AI-powered patient recruitment platform for clinical trials.

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    Emotionally Unavailable Jerk Or Malignant Narcissist? 5 Powerful Ways To Tell The Difference

    This article has been adapted from a chapter in Power: Surviving And Thriving After Narcissistic Abuse by Shahida Arabi
    Timothy Paul Smith

    I often get asked, “How do I know if this person is a malignant narcissist or just an emotionally unavailable jerk?” narcissists are emotionally unavailable to some extent, but not all emotionally unavailable people are narcissists.

    Sometimes, the lines can be blurred, especially since malignant narcissists can also just put on an act and fake empathy for a short period of time. However, throughout a long-term relationship with someone, the distinctions become clearer than ever as the mask tends to slip. Here are the five key areas of difference between someone who is and someone who is both emotionally unavailable a malignant narcissist:

    1. Lack of empathy and capacity for change

    Emotionally unavailable people lack the psychological equipment that would make them likely candidates for a long-term relationship at that specific time. There is variety in this group: emotionally unavailable people can include those who are simply gun-shy and brokenhearted in the early stages of their healing, as well as garden-variety jerks and players. However, if they are not narcissists, emotionally unavailable individuals are still capable of connecting and empathizing with others. They will still be able to consider your point of view. They may still feel remorse or guilt for hurting someone (although it does not necessarily stop them from engaging in unsavory behavior, depending on how selfish they are). They do, however, have the ability to evolve given that they are willing to work on their relationship patterns and healing.

    Narcissists, on the other hand, lack the core empathy that would make them candidates for just about long-term. In patients diagnosed with Narcissistic Personality Disorder, there has actually been research that shows gray matter abnormalities in parts of the brain related to empathy. With a true narcissist, after the honeymoon period is over, you witness an appalling, chilling indifference in response to your emotional needs and desires that borders on inhumane. They are unable to even consider anybody else’s feelings and do not care who they hurt in the process of getting what they want.

    2. The origins of their behavior

    Emotionally unavailable people may have become emotionally unavailable from a wound incurred from a past relationship or a recent break-up. This wound can usually be addressed with professional support and appropriate grieving methods. Or, they may just not be the commitment type; some are just naturally perpetual bachelors (or bachelorettes) and nothing you can do can change that.

    Narcissists suffer what is known as a “narcissistic wound” in childhood. There is still no clinical verdict as to what causes their disorder, but there are some theories: one of which suggests that they may have suffered maltreatment by their parents and another that shows that being taught an excessive sense of entitlement at an early age can lead to narcissistic traits. As a result, a narcissist’s behavior is hardwired and very difficult to change in adulthood because they never outgrew their infantile sense of egocentrism.

    If they high on the spectrum and are malignant to the point where they also have antisocial traits, they are also unlikely to evolve because their behavior rewards them. Many malignant narcissists may not derive benefits from traditional talk therapy because they are unable to admit that they have a problem in the first place. Their lack of willingness to change may result in only further manipulation in the therapy space.

    3. Why they create “harems” and love triangles

    Emotionally unavailable people can create “harems” unwittingly, in the sense that they may date multiple people at once to keep themselves safe from commitment or rejection. This doesn’t make their behavior justifiable, but their reasoning is different from that of a malignant narcissist. They may have a hard time committing to one person or to commit to anything besides a casual arrangement because they’re scared of being hurt or because they are not at a stage of their lives where they want to be with just one person. Any deception that is involved on their part is still wrong and shouldn’t be tolerated, but it doesn’t bear the same intentions as a narcissist who manufactures love triangles.

    Narcissists create harems and manufacture love triangles because it gives them a sense of power and control. The different members of their support network, which are usually made up of their primary partner, exes, so-called “friends,” – all of them serve as sources of narcissistic supply – objects from which they can obtain praise, admiration, resources and an infinite number of ego strokes. They gain excitement from their different admirers competing for their attention. Making their various “fangirls” or “fanboys” jealous of each other makes them feel desirable and on top of the world. They enjoy provoking their harem members and getting unlimited attention from all of them; it’s all just a big game for them.

    4. Their level of malice and sadism

    Emotionally unavailable people usually aren’t out to harm others, though they very well can do so despite their best intentions. Many believe that by managing expectations early on, they are doing their “fair share” of telling the truth and not leading people on (though those on the receiving end may not feel so). Others, however, obscure the truth deliberately to get what they want in the immediate moment (for example, using someone for sex while pretending they want something more). Regardless, when you express to an emotionally unavailable person how much they’re hurting you, they are usually able to leave you alone, move onto someone else or distance themselves due to guilt. They may boomerang back occasionally, but it’s usually out of selfishness rather than outright malice.

    On the other hand, malignant narcissists on the high end of the narcissistic spectrum gain pleasure from taking people down. Research has shown that those who are high in dark triad traits (such as narcissism, psychopathy, and Machiavellianism) actually take pleasure in seeing sad faces. It all feeds into their grandiose sense of power and superiority. They use “cold” or cognitive empathy to assess the weaknesses and strengths of their victims, but their empathy does not extend to affective empathy, which would allow them to consider or care about the harm they inflict. According to researchers Wai and Tiliopoulos (2012):

    “Individuals high on the dark triad traits appear to exhibit an empathic profile that allows them to retain their ability to read and assess others’ emotions, and subsequently utilize this sensitive information to formulate strategies with which they can acquire what they want, while their lack of affective empathy may lead them to overlook or ignore potential harm inflicted to others in the process.”

    Hurting someone is like emotional fuel for malignant narcissists, especially since they “suffer” from perpetual boredom. Like sadistic puppeteers, they enjoy pulling the strings of their loved ones and warping their reality. It’s actually a fun sport for them to demean, criticize, blameshift and aggravate someone. A relationship is never “over” for them, because they never like losing any of their toys. They’ll get bored with their new source of supply and go on the hunt for more, or they’ll reach into their toybox and find an older toy to play with (in other words, you!).

    5. The idealization, devaluation and discard cycle

    Emotionally unavailable people idealize you because they want to fast-forward you into getting what they want (usually sex) or, sometimes they’re not even aware of the extent of their own emotional unavailability. For example, an emotionally unavailable person who is still in the midst of heartbreak may be so enthusiastic about finding someone else after a break-up that they overestimate their interest. When they withdraw, it’s not so much as a manipulative tactic as an indicator of their inability to be emotionally intimate with you, and a recognition that perhaps they aren’t ready for a serious relationship after all.

    Malignant narcissists, on the other hand, idealize and love-bomb their victims . They feed their victims empty flattery and excessive praise at the onset to ensure that their victims trust them. They are the types that will declare their love for you within the early stages of dating.

    Once their victims are sufficiently hooked, they take great pride in devaluing their victims and mistreating them, subjecting them to put-downs, rage attacks, gaslighting, verbal, emotional, and sometimes even physical abuse. They also eventually discard their victims in horrific ways – that is, unless their victims discard them first, in which case, it becomes an elaborate power struggle to hoover them back in so they can devalue them further. The cruelty of the discard is staged in such a way that it is used to diminish the victim completely. They are also known to stalk, harass and bully their victims even after the ending of a relationship. As usual, it’s about power and thrill-seeking for them. They enjoy the ability to make their victims pine for their affection. They like the effect of intermittently feeding their victims enough crumbs to keep them longing for the whole loaf of bread. Meanwhile, they’re satiating all of their desires with other partners on the side and feasting on your resources.

    The Bottom Line

    Emotionally unavailable people have the ability to evolve and the capacity to empathize. Malignant narcissists, on the other hand, often do not, and some of them actually enjoy putting others down to derive a sense of power. At the end of the day, however, if these types of toxic individuals are not treating you with respect or engaging in any form of abusive behavior, neither one is a good candidate for a relationship. Unless an emotionally unavailable person is willing to work on his or her own behaviors, they won’t be satisfying you in the long-term either. It’s time to become more emotionally available by cutting off contact with anyone who isn’t giving you the happy, consistent and healthy relationship you deserve.

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