‘A Dog’s Purpose’ Debuts At No. 2 At Box Office Despite Controversy

LOS ANGELES, Jan 29 (Variety.com) – Despite the TMZ videos and boycott threats, A Dogs Purpose still managed to pull in family audiences, who apparently were not convinced of the significance of footage of a cowering German Shepherd being forced into rushing water.

The story of a dog who gets reincarnated, living through and playing mans best friend to multiple masters, brought in $18.4 million in its opening weekend. Thats in line with the openings of other films for animal-lovers, such as Eight Below ($20.1 million) and Dolphin Tale ($19.1 million), neither one of which raised the ire of PETA. Universal and Amblin partnered on A Dogs Purpose. It has a $22 million production budget.

It opened right in the sweet spot, if not on the higher end of expectations, said Nick Carpou, Universals domestic distribution chief. The fact that the film has worked so well speaks directly to its resonating message. The controversy surrounding the protests generated by a highly edited video is hard to ignore. However, the box office shows that this film rises above that.

Universal Pictures
Dennis Quaid in “A Dog’s Purpose.” 

He noted that even at multiplexes where there were protests, such as the Arclight in Los Angeles, the film did strong business. Its a solid opening, one that suggests that the companies were successful in containing the wave of bad publicity that threatened A Dogs Purposes release. After TMZ released the video, director Lasse Hallstrom, producer Gavin Polone, and various cast members expressed their outrage. They placed most of the blame on the films second-unit production team or argued that the video was manipulated, while Universal, looking to contain the blowback, canceled the films premiere. The protest threats and viral video did take a bite out of the grosses tracking two weeks ago suggested the film would open to as much as $24 million but the public relations headaches werent fatal.

What happened did hurt the box office, said Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations. I think $25 million was easily in reach before the controversy. It could hurt it in the long run. I dont think it will sustain itself like a family film usually does.

One film is showing some impressive endurance. Blumhouse and Univerals Split managed to hold on to the top spot for the second straight weekend, earning $26.3 million. The low-budget thriller film has made $78 million domestically, and marks a return to form for M. Night Shyamalan. The director of The Sixth Sense has reinvented himself in recent years by working with producer Jason Blum. Once white-hot, his star dimmed with bombs such as The Lady in the Water and After Earth. However, The Visit, another Blumhouse hit he directed, and now Split, have restored some of Shyamalans luster.

Typically movies like this open big and then have a huge drop, said Paul Dergarabedian, senior media analyst at ComScore. This was such a smart movie. Its well acted and its just a cut above a typical movie in this genre that youre seeing that in its hold. Its a pure reflection of the positive sentiment on social media.

Sonys Resident Evil: The Final Chapter debuted to $13.8 million for a fourth place finish. The latest installment in the video game franchise has earned nearly $80 million worldwide. Sony worldwide marketing and distribution chief Josh Greenstein said the stateside opening was in line with the studios expectations and noted that the Resident Evil series tends to play better abroad. The previous two films made roughly 80% of their grosses from foreign territories.

Resident Evil is built for an international audience, he said, adding, This is a perfect example of looking at a film as a global film and not as a U.S.-centric one.

Its also in keeping with what Sony chief Tom Rothman has tried to emphasize since taking over at the studio in 2015. Under Rothman, Sony has built up its local language division, creating more films targeted at foreign audiences, while emphasizing pictures like Blade Runner 2 and Spider-Man: Homecoming that are geared at the global marketplace. With the weekends grosses, the Resident Evil series has now cruised past the $1 billion mark to become the biggest video game-based franchise in history.

Foxs Hidden Figures continued to pull in crowds, adding $14 million to its gross to push its domestic total to $104 million. The drama about African-American scientists in the early days of the space program was nominated for a Best Picture Academy Award this week.

La La Land capitalized on its 14 Oscar nominations to the tune of $12 million. That pushes the musicals domestic haul to more than $106 million. Lionsgate expanded the number of theaters that La La Land was playing in after it received all the awards love.

The Weinstein Companys Gold collapsed at the box office, eking out $3.5 million to be the worst wide-release opening of Matthew McConaugheys career.

Overall ticket sales were essentially flat with the same weekend last year a period when Kung Fu Panda 3 bowed to $41.3 million. Next weekend brings Rings, a horror film sequel, and The Space Between Us, a science-fiction romance.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/a-dogs-purpose-box-office_us_588e3ad4e4b08a14f7e6a34f?ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

History, harmony, and the only Muslim island in Australia | Ben Stubbs

There is something positive about the isolated existence of the Cocos (Keeling) Islands, 2,000km from the West Australian coast and shielded from anti-Islam rhetoric

We pull up to the front of the mosque in Nek Sus golf cart. Through the open window I see him join thirty men in bright robes and embroidered Taqiyah head coverings as they kneel to face the Kaaba cube in Mecca. The soft call to prayer fills the street. Everything else is silent. Two girls in hijabs walk past as a young, robed man pulls up to the mosque and shuffles inside, late.

Hayya ala Salahhhhh, drifts from the speakers.

The call to prayer is normally something Australians associate with travelling and the exotic: being in a rooftop cafe in Marrakesh sipping mint tea, in a hotel in Agra looking at the Taj Mahal before sunrise, or walking the shores of the Bosphorus during an Istanbul winter. It is always something I have experienced as an outsider.

I look across the lagoon, past the school and the jetty to the twinkling lights on the water and Im reminded that I havent travelled far at all. This is still Australia; its just a part that many people dont get to see. I am a guest of Nek Su, the builder, fisherman, grandfather, imam and elder of Home Island, the only Muslim island in Australia.

The Cocos (Keeling) Islands are an iridescent tropical atoll 2,000km from the West Australian coast, yet they are still part of Australia as one of the Indian Ocean Territories (along with Christmas Island). Interestingly the Muslim population here outnumbers the other inhabitants four to one.

The islands have a strange relationship with Islam. They were discovered by Captain William Keeling of the East India Company in 1609 and werent properly settled until Scottish trader John Clunies-Ross and merchant Alexander Hare both arrived in the early 19th century. Clunies-Ross was an empire builder and brought in Malay, Chinese, Papuan and Indian workers to harvest copra they were the first Muslims on the islands. Hare wasnt quite as pragmatic. He was accompanied by slaves and a harem of 23 women from the East Indies, New Guinea and Mozambique to populate his desert island fantasy.

Nek
Nek Su on Turtle Beach. The islands imam grew up collecting coconuts for fo husking for the Clunies-Ross family. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

Hares harem didnt work out, so he left and Clunies-Ross assumed control as the self-appointed king of the islands. The islands operated as the familys fiefdom until they were passed over to Australian control in 1955 and the people voted for proper integration in 1984. As the colonialist leanings of the Clunies-Ross clan loosened, the former indentured population, who were nearly exclusively Sunni Muslims, settled on Home Island and the predominantly expat population set up on West Island across the water.

I take the ferry across the aqua lagoon to Home Island. Waiting for me on the jetty is a tall man wearing a brown fedora. He has an open and friendly face; he looks fit and slim for a 73-year-old man. Call me Nek Su, he smiles in reply. It means grandpa, and it is what all the Home Islanders know him as.

We drive from the jetty towards his house. The paved lanes are populated by bikes and golf carts sitting under coconut palms. There is an identical layout to the houses, with big breezy rooms and outdoor kitchens. They are all connected by narrow laneways that wouldnt look out of place in Kuala Lumpur or Java. The afternoon air smells of spices and samosas.

Nek Su points to the elevated cyclone shelter as we drive: I built that.

We continue along the narrow lanes and he points to the luminescent yellow school: That too.

Nek Su isnt much of a conversationalist, at least not in English. His first language, like most of the Home Islanders, is Malay. Their language is unique and has evolved since it came across the water with the first indentured workers.

Nek
Nek Su on Home Island. I met Queen Elizabeth; I didnt say anything though. I was too shy, he says. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

We pull in at the enormous mosque. Its dome is silver and its floorboards are still unpainted. It will house the entire Home Island population of 400 eventually, a step up from the modest fibro buildings used previously. Everyone who lives on the island is Muslim, Nek Su tells me.

He also tells me that many of the young children are actively part of Islam here on the island something he never saw on the mainland. Nek Su lived in Western Australia in the 1970s and he regularly goes back to Perth, Port Hedland and Jurien Bay. The link with their faith is a central part of life on Home Island, for young and old. On Wednesday afternoons Nek Su and other elder statesmen teach the boys on the island the ways of their Cocos Malay culture, sailing, dancing and building Jukong traditional boats to maintain a link with their past. Nek Su also tells me that 85% of Home Islanders have been to Mecca.

We continue driving around the go-kart like tracks of the island. At the edge of the lapping water Nek Su greets a group of young men with their children playing in the shallows. Later we pull in at one of the houses to meet Nek Sus family. Nek Sus brother Omar and his wife, who wears a bright orange hijab, are sitting out the back as she fries some afternoon snacks in the wok. Salam is offered as a greeting when we enter the outdoor kitchen. When Omar sees that Im an outsider, he smiles and says, How ya going mate? Take a seat. The clove smell of kretek cigarettes wafts through the air, mixing with the frying spices spitting from the wok, highlighting the mash of cultures here.

Our path home takes us along the edges of Oceania House, the former colonial mansion of the Clunies-Ross family. It is a big, white two-storey place overlooking the water. Vines push through the crumbled windows; salt has blown a film of rust across it all, yet it remains as a decaying reminder of Home Islands past.

Later that evening Nek Su and I eat dinner together in his modest kitchen a meal of sweet lip fish, samosas and vegetables. Looking at the snow peas and carrots on my plate I mention that I didnt see much planted on Home Island. Its difficult to grow anything because of the soil mostly its just sand, says Nek Su. There isnt much here other than bananas, sugar cane and tubers. They all rely on the six-weekly shipments from the mainland to supplement what they can grow and catch. While we eat, Nek Su tells me stories of meeting the Queen in 1955 when she visited the islands, I met Queen Elizabeth; I didnt say anything though. I was too shy, he says with a smile.

Nek Su is the image of a self-sufficient man. He cant read or write but he can build a house, a boat, weld, fish and his faith is at the centre of it all. As we pack up the meal he hurries us along as the nighttime prayer is coming, just one of the five prayer times all recognise on the island.

We head out in Nek Sus boat early the next morning with his nephew Ossie to experience something of this self-sufficiency. Fishing, quite understandably, is an activity that binds the two communities on the Cocos Islands and helps them all survive. Within minutes I notice black floating shapes the size of dinner tables below us.

Turtles! exclaims Ossie. There are hundreds of sea turtles in the lagoon, along with an abundance of fish, sharks, rays and dugongs.

Two
There are hundreds of sea turtles in the lagoon, along with an abundance of fish, sharks, rays and dugongs. Photograph: Norbert Probst/Alamy Stock Photo

Nek Su stretches his stiff knees ever so slightly as we ride the swells in the deeper water. When he was growing up he would work, along with the other Malay speakers, on South Island collecting coconuts for the Clunies-Ross family to be husked and sold to the mainland.

Id collect 100 in a bag. Wed carry 5,000 coconuts on our shoulders every week.

The sun is directly above us and our Esky is full of fish to be shared between the families on Home Island, so Ossie and Nek Su cross the lagoon to drop me at West Island to meet the rest of the locals. Many Home Islanders work on West Island, in the visitors centre, the school, medical centre and the cafes. There are also West Islanders on the ferry every morning going to work for the day at Home Island.

Afternoons are for golf across the international runway, evenings are for tennis or a quiet drink at the pub, and there seems to be a community event every second day. To me, it seems religion is at the centre of things on Home Island and on West Island the community is the driving force. It doesnt seem to matter if it is organising a new mosque or a raffle for the golf club, these places exist together because of their sense of community.

Home
Home Island school. Photograph: Ben Stubbs for the Guardian

At the visitors centre, Jules, the marketing manager, tells me that the interaction on the islands is something they embrace, Our girls all look forward to Hari Raya when we all go to Home Island to celebrate together.

Hari Raya is the celebration and reflection at the end of Ramadan. The two communities get together to enjoy the breaking of the fast and the associated rituals as they anticipate the new year. Homes are strung with fairy lights, people eat together in open houses and those who have passed away are remembered. Even if the two communities arent as close as they were twenty years ago, as long time resident Terry Washer suggests, because of the influence of the mainland, there is something hopeful about this place.

Its isolation has shielded the community, somewhat, from the rhetoric of Ray Hadley and Pauline Hanson and the rest. If more people observed the history and coexistence of the Home islanders and the West islanders without the outside noise and media peer pressure, it might give them hope.

LaTrobe University anthropologist Nicholas Herriman calls the Cocos Malay, Australias oldest continuously Islamic and South Asian community and on the islands this is a position greeted with respect.

The next day I wait at the Cocos Malay cafe at the airport on West Island as a batch of samosas are fried by the lady in a headscarf for the electricians who are finishing up a shift on the islands. I reflect on my initial thought that the isolation here might have bred fear and mistrust. This fishbowl existence has, if anything, allowed them to preserve a sense of community and coexist in a way that many Australians dont experience anymore.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/travel/2017/jan/29/history-harmony-and-the-only-muslim-island-in-australia

Trump Acts To Sabotage Obamacare Enrollment, Days Before Deadline

President Donald Trump isnt waiting for Congress to repeal the Affordable Care Act.

Hes trying to undermine it right now.

Politicos Paul Demko reported on Thursday evening that the Department of Health and Human Services has halted all outreach efforts, including television advertising and direct email designed to encourage people to enroll in Obamacare plans.

The Obama administration had already paid for the advertising. An HHS spokesperson told Demko that the Trump administration had decided to cancel the final installment, worth about $5 million, in order to look for efficiencies where they exist.

The timing is critical. The open enrollment period for 2017 ends next week, on Jan. 31, and traditionally, signups have surged in the final days before the deadline.

Those late signups dont merely boost the programs enrollment numbers. They also help insurers to hold down premiums.

Thats because insurance depends on premiums from healthy people to underwrite the medical bills of the small minority with serious health problems. And people in relatively good health are precisely the types to postpone enrolling until the very last minute.

Department of Health and Human Services

During last years open enrollment, for example, the percentage of 18-to-34-year-olds signing up for coverage increased with time. It would spike at each meaningful deadline, such as the final day to get coverage in time for Jan. 1, and then again the final day to get coverage for the year.

In the week of that last deadline, young people made up 37 percent of enrollees, up from 22 percent at the start of open enrollment.

Thursdays news came just hours after Trump addressed fellow Republicans in Philadelphia, and repeated an argument he and other GOP leaders have made many times: that the Affordable Care is collapsing because insurers, unable to attract a balanced risk pool, have been losing money, raising prices, and in some cases pulling out of markets altogether.

Reality is actually quite different. Although insurers in many states have struggled, markets in other states are stable. Recent news suggests that this years steep price increases for some may be a one-time correction.

Meanwhile, the number of Americans without health insurance has plummeted to a historic low and, this year, enrollment has actually been running slightly ahead of last years pace.

At least, it had been running ahead until now.

Kevin Counihan, who was chief executive officer for HealthCare.gov and before that managed the state exchange in Connecticut, warned that halting outreach now could undermine the program in the future.

The Trump administrations outrageous decision tonight to sabotage open enrollment will mean coverage could cost more next year and insurers could drop out of the marketplace, Counihan said.

Having health insurance is still law of the land, Counihan said. If the president and Republicans in Congress want to change that, they should come up with a plan and show it to the American people, rather than depriving Americans of the chance to sign up for coverage and financial assistance they remain eligible for.

Josh Peck,who worked on the last three open enrollment periods and just stepped down as chief marketing officer for Healthcare.gov, told The Huffington Post that HHS did extensive research into which outreach efforts worked and tailored its campaigns accordingly focusing specifically on those most likely to yield the most signups.HHS found that simply reminding people of the final date, particularly by email, was the most effective tactic, Peck said.

Peck noted that HHS doesnt spend money on e-mails, the way it does for television or digital ads, so theres no money to be refunded there.

They are shutting down outreach efforts that are effectively free, Peck said. One of the most effective things we do in the final days is to email people, just to let them know the date of the deadline. Thats all bought and paid for already. Taxpayers will not save a single cent by not sending emails in those final days. I cant fathom what claim of efficiency can be involved there.

Multiple efforts to reach HHS communications staff after business hours on Thursday were not successful.

This article has been updated to include Josh Pecks comments.

Read more: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/entry/trump-obamacare-enrollment_us_588a9451e4b0230ce61b0b40?vetgfi0iwyul92j4i&ncid=inblnkushpmg00000009

Is flexible working biased against non-parents? – BBC News

Image copyright Thinkstock

When the right to request flexible working was extended to all employees in 2014, the move was heralded as a game changer in the workplace.

With anyone eligible to ask to work from home and/or reduce their hours, it seemed that a narrative long synonymous with working mothers and childcare had finally broadened in scope.

Yet it appears we are some way off the level playing field anticipated. While technology continues to blur the boundary between home and the office and the rise of the gig economy demands more workplace agility, it seems childless employees are still experiencing a bias that makes a work-life balance a pipedream.

“From accommodating religious commitments to managing long-term medical conditions such as anxiety and depression, there are many reasons why people need to work flexibly, but many employers still view this as a privilege just for parents with young children,” says Kate Headley, director of consulting at The Clear Company, which helps organisations recruit staff from a more diverse base.

“Instead, they need to open up their thinking to adopt flexible working and attract a whole new talent pool of qualified people that either can’t or choose not to work traditional hours.”

Image copyright Jodi Redhouse
Image caption Georgie Gayler says she would never want to get a colleague in trouble but when people with kids take time off “it adds up”

And for freelance social media director Georgie Gayler, who doesn’t have children, a bias over formal flexible working requests is only part of the story.

In her experience inconsistencies are rife and unquestioned across a number of informal arrangements, from time off automatically given when children are ill to leaving work early or coming in late to accommodate their needs.

“If their children are sick, or they need flexible working suddenly due to difficulties at home, then of course this should be recognised, but at the same time, the job still needs to be done and without an impact on other colleagues, and this is where it can often fall,” she says.

“I’d never want to get a colleague in trouble over what might be considered a ‘petty’ 30 minutes here and there, but it adds up and is noticed more than managers and HR departments think.”

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Parents leaving work early or coming in late because of the school run can cause tension with co-workers

With tensions particularly acute when it comes to “picking up the slack”, some employment lawyers think there could be scope for a change in the law to ensure like-for-like hours.

Such a development would be welcomed by people like marketing professional Ryan Lock. The 30-year-old jumped ship from his most recent job, having found that the flexible working culture promoted as an organisation-wide benefit was a perk available only to parents.

“I’ve seen colleagues have to fight really hard for something that has been advertised to them while having to cover when working parents take leave at short notice,” he says.

“For me, flexible working is something that empowers you to work where and when you feel you can be most productive, be it home, the office or a coffee shop, whereas I do think a certain generation of senior management with children see it as a chance to block out windows for extracurricular activities.”

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption For many millennials, flexible working means being able to work in environments where you can be the most productive

As a millennial, he’s part of the demographic increasingly rejecting the nine-to-five working model and demanding more from their employers. It’s a group that Claire Knowles, a partner at Acuity Legal, believes will be the driving force behind future legislative change in the next five years.

In the meantime, while complaints against employers for unfair treatment are common, she admits few make it to tribunal. Perhaps even more surprising is the negligible rise in requests from childless employees to work flexibly since the legislation changed.

“The most common grievances around flexible working generally still involve parents – usually women – who have requested flexible working for an average of three years while they start families, but they then expect to be able to revert back to their normal working hours immediately and employers can’t accommodate this,” says Ms Knowles.


More on this topic:

Can your job be as flexible as this?

Low paid ‘miss out on flexible working’

Can you be part-time at the top?


While some cite a simple lack of awareness, Sir Cary Cooper, psychology professor at Manchester Business School, argues that internal pressures and a precarious economic climate are deterring childless employees from “rocking the boat”.

As lead scientist on The Foresight Project: Mental Capital and Wellbeing he was tasked with advising the government on how to achieve the best possible mental well-being in the population, a study which included an in-depth look at the workplace.

Image copyright Thinkstock
Image caption Women who request flexible working to start families are often surprised when they cannot later return to their original working hours

His recommendation to extend the right to request flexible working was a catalyst in the law being changed, but now he would like to see childless employees pursue the right more robustly.

“There is concern particularly with men that requesting this shows a lack of commitment but we now have this law, a bedrock that says it’s ok [to ask] and that employers have to give a very good reason for not granting it,” he says.

“From a talent management perspective and given the technology we now have at our disposal I don’t understand why all employers aren’t embracing it, given the impact flexible working has on productivity.”

Indeed, his report found that the benefit to the UK economy associated with offering the right to request flexible working to parents with children to be around 165m, and when opened to non-parents of working age the figure rises to 250m.

Image copyright Lloyds
Image caption Non-parent Claire Hyde is grateful that her employer lets her jobshare

Lloyds Banking Group was an early proponent of opening flexible working to all. The company says putting bottom line before presenteeism has increased productivity, including a 10% rise in answered calls as well as increased employee satisfaction and retention rates.

The company’s joint head of internal communications, Claire Hyde, who doesn’t have children, is a case in point. With 15 years’ service to date, her three-day-a-week jobshare arrangement includes a mix of office and home working.

“I really appreciate being with a company that doesn’t discriminate based on parental status. Everyone’s individual circumstances are different and people may have other caring responsibilities, roles in their local community or additional personal commitments, organisations should be recognising and adapting to this.”

And with 19 million people without dependents employed in the UK and global childlessness on the rise, perhaps she has a point.

Related Topics

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38656821

F1s Chase Carey: races should be Super Bowls, events that capture a whole city

The new chief executive of Formula One, Chase Carey, said he wants to turn races into week-long extravaganzas with entertainment and music, and also underlined the importance of the British Grand Prix

The new chief executive of Formula One, Chase Carey, wants to turn each of the sports 21 races into a Super Bowl and has reiterated the importance of a British Grand Prix to the calendar.

Carey, who is now in charge of F1 after Bernie Ecclestones exit on Monday night, has stressed the importance of the classic European venues while emphasising that the new owner, Liberty Media, intends to expand the sports appeal.

He wants to make the sport bigger, broader and better. Carey said: We have 21 races we should have 21 Super Bowls. They should be week-long extravaganzas with entertainment and music, events that capture a whole city.

After Silverstone voiced fears over the cost of hosting grands prix and considered dropping the meeting, he said: We will have a British Grand Prix. The foundation of the sport is western Europe.

Carey identified Monaco, Monza, the Hockenheimring and the Nrburgring as part of fundamental attractions and said: You have still got to maintain those traditions to have the values in F1.

Charging hosting fees to circuits are a key revenue stream for F1 and, notably, Carey stopped short of suggesting races could be made more affordable for tracks. Instead, he suggested Liberty would be aiming to make meetings more financially successful which is not the news circuits or fans may have been hoping for.

He warned, though, that there is much work to be done. We have great stars, Lewis Hamilton, Max Verstappen, he said. But we have zero people in marketing and we dont have a connection on digital media. We have to do a better job of enabling fans to connect to our stars. He added: In the last four or five years the sport really has not grown to its potential.

Carey also emphasised his desire to host another race in the US, citing New York, Miami, Los Angeles and Las Vegas as destination cities where people would come for a week-long event, with the race at the centre.

Read more: https://www.theguardian.com/sport/2017/jan/24/f1-chase-carey-races-super-bowls-events-capture-city-british-grand-prix

Dear Betch, Should I Stay In College To Get My MRS Degree?

Dear Head Pro,

This week has been crazy. I found out that I can graduate a year early with no minor or a semester early with a betchy BS minor or double major in something useful and graduate on time. Of course I go to a bug state party school but also hard af to get into. Like my major is marketing so not the toughest business major but not journalism. Obviously, I dont want to graduate because I dont want to be classified as an alcoholic. duh. I really dont think Im ready to give up cheap liquor and dumb fraternity boys, but I was also just elected to be on standards or my sorority aka I have to be boring now. But, maybe getting hired with a Masters could be cool idk. Are there cute boys in grad school? The real problem is that my dad doesnt love me enough and is only paying for four years of useful college. Of course, I called my dad in tears and he basically told me to grow up and make a decision on my own or go to grad school. Like i really just dont know on this one. Graduate early and get another degree that my dad will help pay for or try and take BS classes and graduate with my class. Or do I double major bc is that betchy? Or should I change my major to MIS where all the smart frat boys are at? Oh and Im no where near that MRS. degree bc apparently I like to have too much fun.

Sincerely,

Should Have Gone for the MRS

Dear Embodiment Of Every Millennial Stereotype,

Yeah, I know you asked for the Head Pro but you got me instead. Surprise, bitch. So I’m super confused how you got from “graduating early” to “graduating with a Master’s.” Honestly I hope this letter is satire because you sound so unbelievably spoiled it almost makes me want to go back in time and somehow be a part of the Baby Boomer generation. Your dad is paying for four years of college, you should basically kiss his feet (or maybe something, IDK, less like what Ivanka Trump would do). Anyway, point is, your dad is right af; you need to grow up and make a decision for your future. Personally I would stay in college for 4 years and milk it if dad’s paying, but IDK. Given that you’re actually considering changing your major to be with “all the smart frat boys” (vom, are you serious?) I think maybe you need to like, drop out of college and take a job in the mines so you can learn some maturity and the value of a dollar.

Stay In School & Don’t Do Drugs,

The Betches

Dear Head Pro,

So basically I’ve never been single for more than 2 months since sixth grade (I’m now in my second year of university). I just broke things off, about a month ago, with my boyfriend I’ve been with for the past 4 years because I wanted to experience being single and just focus on myself.

A couple of months ago, one of my good friends (let’s call him Nick) introduced me to his cousin (Luke) because we all had the same classes together. At first I thought he could be gay just because of the stereotypical signs he gave, I know that’s wrong. But anyway, I started to feel sexual attraction towards him and eventually an emotional connection, creating more of a reason to break up with my boyfriend.

About a week after breaking up with him, I asked Luke how he felt about friends with benefits and he said it sounded like fun. I knew he was a virgin and actually never really hooked up with a lot of girls before so I’d have to take initiative here. I asked him if he wanted to study at his place and he accepted. I made my move that day and kissed him. Things started heating up and before I knew it, we were in his bed.

There was one problem.. He couldn’t get it up.

I was mortified because that’s never happened to a guy I was with and I thought he wasn’t attracted to me. After I left his place, I couldn’t help but wonder if he actually was gay. I needed to know for sure, so I made the effort to continue hooking up with him (each time he could barely keep it up long enough to have sex, but we did manage to do it once.. granted it wasn’t the best sex of my life. That plan failed because I still have no idea what’s wrong.

I told all of this to one of my close friends and she said that Nick would be the better match for me, which got me thinking. I realized that Nick is a really sweet guy and I might actually have feelings for him but I know it’s so wrong because I was hooking up with his cousin.

How do I stop myself from going guy to guy?

xoxo,

Accidentally in Lust

Dear Ann Perkins,

Y’all have got me fucked up. “How do I stop myself from going guy to guy?” – You just fucking don’t do it. End of story. It’s not that hard. Get some therapy if you need help realizing it’s okay to *actually* be by yourself. The world won’t end. Your uterus won’t dry up. I know it seems like a strange concept because you literally have not been single since childhood (sidenote: who are you people and how do you find a constant stream of men to date), but I promise you: you will be fine. Being single is actually fun. And for the record, just because a guy can’t get it up doesn’t mean he’s gay. He could be nervous. Or tired. There are literally a million reasons, aside from his sexuality, that he could have trouble staying hard.

Also, WTF, the way to find out someone’s sexuality (which really wasn’t/isn’t any of your business even though you made it your business) is not to “keep hooking up with them to see what happens.” That’s like, not very cool.

Bottom line is, if you don’t want to hook up with someone … don’t. I really have no additional advice for you. Sorry. Come to me with a real problem and then maybe I can offer real advice.

Bye.

Read more: http://www.betches.com/mrs-degree-dear-betch

Trading Standards teams ‘struggling to visit’ scam victims – BBC News


Image caption Councils in England are supposed to contact individuals on “suckers lists” of people likely to fall victim to scams

Officials from trading standards say they are struggling to visit people who are likely to fall victim to scams, because of staff shortages.

Details of 86,000 people on so-called “suckers lists” have been passed to trading standards departments across England, according to BBC research.

The victims – many of them elderly – are sent bogus offers in the post.

Data suggests fewer than a third of them have been visited by trading standards officers to warn them.


How do the scams work?

  • Mass marketing scams are defined as unsolicited email, letter, phone or adverts in which false promises are made to swindle people out of money
  • These can involve false lotteries and prize draws, lucky charms, vitamins and bogus nutritional supplements
  • According to the National Audit Office, a typical victim is aged 74 and living alone, losing an average of 4,500
  • Since 2013, 86,556 potential victims have been referred to trading standards teams – but only 30% have been visited
  • The estimated total cost to victims is 3.5bn

Since it was established in 2012, the National Trading Standards Scams Team has signed agreements with councils across England to contact individuals identified on so-called “suckers lists”.

The lists are made up of repeat victims who have responded to scams in the past, and are put together by trading standards teams from a number of sources, including seized lists, names uncovered in the course of investigations and names picked up from pieces of mail.

A Freedom of Information request has revealed wide variations in the way councils respond to referrals made by the scams team.

Leon Livermore, the chief executive of the Chartered Trading Standards Institute, said: “Reduced resources and increased demand have created a perfect storm where the system is breaking down around us.

“We have seen a cut to the number of the trading standards officers by 53%.”

Victims who have not been visited are being contacted by post or telephone, which is regarded by the scams team as “better than no intervention”.


Highest number of scam victim referrals 2013-2016

  • 3,242 Devon and Somerset
  • 2,400 Dorset
  • 2,056 North Yorkshire
  • 1,924 West Sussex
  • 1,877 Cornwall
  • 1,789 Hertfordshire
  • 1,781 Lancashire
  • 1,658 Lincolnshire
  • 1,507 Suffolk
  • 1,311 Norfolk

John Pearce, 67, was referred to Suffolk’s Trading Standards team after his name appeared on a suckers list.

Despite being visited, Mr Pearce is still responding to scam mail.

He has spent more than 4,000 on goods from catalogues which promised him large cash prizes on the condition he orders from them.

“They aren’t personal letters. They’re all from these companies.

“They just keep posting them to me. I must get around six a day sometimes,” he said.

“My wife is in an old people’s home. But I felt that I’m not doing nothing and when all these letters came in I thought I could be doing something here.

“I’m just living in hope that I get some money just to boost the bank up.”


Image caption John Pearce, who lives in Suffolk, said he received up for six scam letters every day

Professor Keith Brown of Bournemouth University, an expert who studies scams, says tackling the huge scale of fraud being perpetuated on the elderly should be a national priority.

“In a few years we’ll look back at today and say ‘how do we in society let so many old and vulnerable people got conned and abused in these sort of ways?’.

“How can we live in a civilised society and allow this to go on, on such a scale?” he said.

Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-england-38662281

White House site updated to remove Melania Trump QVC reference

Washington (CNN)The White House edited First Lady Melania Trump’s biography on WhiteHouse.gov Friday “out of an abundance of caution” that a reference to her clothing line on QVC could be seen as an endorsement, a spokesperson for Trump told CNN.

The page lists information about Trump’s life, including her modeling career and philanthropy. Earlier in the day, however, her QVC jewelry collection was mentioned.
    “In April 2010, Melania Trump launched her own jewelry collection, ‘Melania Timepieces & Jewelry,’ on QVC,” the biography said.
    QVC no longer sells jewelry under the Trump brand and the biography did not link to QVC. A spokeswoman for the company, Rebecca Blank, told CNN Friday that QVC does “not have an active relationship with the brand.”
    The Trump spokesperson said the reference to Trump’s “entrepreneurial success” was based on fact and not an endorsement and noted that it was not available for sale.
    It’s not the first time a member of the Trump family has been criticized for promoting a Trump brand.
    The namesake brand of President Donald Trump’s oldest daughter, Ivanka, emailed a “style alert” featuring a $10,800 bracelet she wore after an appearance alongside her father on “60 Minutes” in November.
    Abigail Klem, president of the Ivanka Trump brand, released a statement following the bracelet email that said it was sent by a “well-intentioned marketing employee” following “customary protocol.”
    The employee, Klem wrote, “like many of us, is still making adjustments post-election. We are proactively discussing new policies and procedures with all of our partners going forward.”
    Ivanka Trump took steps to separate herself from her brand’s social media accounts later that month, and fully stepped away from the business in January.
    The President has turned The Trump Organization over to sons Donald Jr. and Eric through his new administration, though ethics watchdogs have urged him to take further steps to distance himself from his businesses.

    Read more: http://www.cnn.com/2017/01/20/politics/melania-trump-white-house-biography/index.html

    Greetings cards for children show ‘damaging stereotypes’ – BBC News


    Image caption Why don’t more cards show girls driving diggers?

    Earlier this week former Conservative MP Sir Peter Luff was sent by his wife to buy a birthday card for her niece.

    What he found in his local Waitrose appalled him: the cards were all pink ballerinas for girls, footballers and astronauts for boys. There was nothing that challenged those gendered stereotypes.

    So he sent a quick tweet.

    What followed was a vitriolic debate over the question of exactly what greetings cards should show.

    Image copyright Peter Luff

    His initial tweet addressed publicly to the upmarket food store simply asked “Dear @waitrose, do you think your children’s cards may be just a bit stereotypical?”

    Sir Peter wasn’t prepared for the online response, which included insults and sneers from people who thought the matter trivial or too prescriptive.

    Several said they, or their daughters, liked pink and wanted to buy cards that reflected their femininity. Others agreed with him.

    Image copyright SAmuel West

    He hastens to clarify: “I’m happy for there to be pink cards with ballerinas on display. It’s choice I’m arguing for, not banning or limiting options. Lots of girls I know would not want to be sent those cards.”

    “Some adults make assumptions about children that are patronising and wrong.”

    Image copyright Peter Luff, Cameron Newland
    Image copyright Peter Luff Tom James

    Waitrose responded that while many of their cards are already suitable for both boys and girls they are “constantly updating to reflect what our customers want to buy”.

    “We are currently working with our suppliers to explore how we can reflect a wider range of children’s interests which aren’t gender specific,” said Waitrose press spokesperson, Gill Smith.

    ‘Crude stereotyping’

    In the meantime Sir Peter argues that the current preponderance of images of girls dancing, shopping and dressing up, while boys are shown having adventures and doing sport can have a subtle impact on children’s future ambitions.

    “This crude stereotyping does do harm. It limits aspiration, it shapes careers. If girls are told they should be ballerinas and boys astronauts and scientists it’s damaging.”

    During his parliamentary career Sir Peter worked to encourage women to enter the engineering profession and persuaded magazines aimed at teenage girls to address their portrayal of women.

    “We have lowest participation of women in engineering in Europe, probably the world. Our engineering companies are missing out on talent,” he said.

    The number and passion of responses – several hundred – indicates he may have hit a raw nerve. Already there have been outspoken campaigns against toy manufacturers that entrench stereotypes and some companies such as Lego have adapted their marketing as a result.

    But it isn’t an matter that has been discussed much within the greetings card business, at least not yet, according to Sharon Little, chief executive of the Greeting Card Association (GCA), the industry trade body.

    Just ask

    Ms Little says retailers decide what cards they stock, based simply on what they think their customers will buy.


    Image caption Even from an early age most girls receive cards that are pink and bunny-covered

    So why don’t retailers offer cards showing girls driving diggers and boys dancing?

    “Maybe they don’t sell in enough quantities,” she suggests. But if customers want something different all they need to do is ask.

    “They need to give feedback to the retailer, if they don’t feel their needs are being met.

    “Card publishers are producing new ranges all the time and they would be able to react very quickly.”

    And getting it right will pay off. The UK boasts a huge greeting cards industry, worth 1.7bn a year.

    According to the GCA Brits buy an average of of 31 cards per person per year, and the vast majority, it is thought, by women.

    Related Topics

    Read more: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-38678540